Judge John Judge of Latah County District Court recently asked the media and other courtroom observers to “have some dignity and some restraint” at the hearing for suspected Idaho student murderer Bryan Kohberger. Judge Judge also declared that he would not be banning cameras from the proceedings.
“I haven’t put a decision out yet, but what I’m going to do is take control of the cameras in the courtroom; I’m not going to ban cameras in the courtroom,” he said at the start of a hearing Friday. “But I need to have more control over what the cameras are doing and what media, or people who are not media, are doing with the filming.”
The prosecution and defence sought the judge to remove the cameras in court files, and the judge has already expressed disapproval with how the media and other spectators have captured and utilised photographs from the courtroom. By taking into account the public’s First Amendment rights as well as Kohberger’s rights to a fair trial under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments, the decision paved the way for a constitutional balancing act.
In addition, the lawsuit is receiving a great deal of public interest, and taxpayers are paying for it.
“I know I can only control so much, and that’s why I continue to urge people to be patient and have some dignity and some restraint,” Judge said.
A tight gag order has already been issued by the court on the case, prohibiting attorneys from both sides, investigators, and even expert witnesses from revealing details that are not already part of the public record.
“We don’t want to have a trial in the media or in the public,” Judge said during a June 27 hearing. “We want it to be in the courtroom.”
He instructed cameras not to focus on the defendant all the time during that hearing, nor on the tabletops where the lawyers had set their notes. He also instructed photographers not to record or take pictures while the court was not in session.
In the Kohberger case, prosecutors have also requested that the cameras be taken down, while court documents indicated that they were also amenable to leaving them in place with certain limitations, such as taking them down during particularly delicate witness testimony.
Kohberger is charged with the murders of four University of Idaho students on November 13, 2022, in the wee hours of the morning. The bodies of best friends Kaylee Goncalves and Madison Mogen, both 21, were found in the same third-story bedroom of their Moscow off-campus rental home. Police discovered the deaths of 20-year-old roommate Xana Kernodle and her boyfriend, Ethan Chapin, on the second floor.
A probable cause affidavit claims that on a knife sheath found beneath Mogen’s body, investigators found a DNA sample that pointed them in the direction of Kohberger. According to the authorities, the ambush began while at least a few of the victims were asleep. After hearing the struggle, a surviving flatmate reported to the police that she witnessed a man wearing a mask and had ‘bushy eyebrows’ leave through the back door.
At Kohberger’s arraignment in May, the judge entered not guilty pleas on his behalf to four counts of first-degree murder and one count of burglary. Additionally, he refuted Kohberger’s request last week to get the charge dismissed.
After being arrested in Pennsylvania, Kohberger expressed his desire to be cleared through a lawyer.