Bryan Kohberger Wins The Genetic Genealogy Dispute: Know More Here

Bryan Kohberger’s defence team won a little victory last week when an Idaho judge rejected their request to have the indictment against him for the stabbing deaths of four college students last year dismissed. Kohberger is suspected of four murders.

In a 4 a.m. ambush in an off-campus rental home, Kohberger is accused of killing Madison Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle, and Ethan Chapin. He is looking for specific information regarding how law enforcement used investigative genetic genealogy (IGG) to flag him as a suspect after he allegedly left a Ka-Bar knife sheath bearing his DNA beneath Mogen’s body.

Bryan Kohberger Wins The Genetic Genealogy Dispute: Know More Here

Judge John Judge approved a request for an in-camera review of the IGG evidence in a 32-page decision.

After reviewing all of the IGG evidence held by the FBI and the Latah County Prosecutor’s Office, he will decide which evidence should be removed from public view, which should be kept secret, and which should be disclosed with the defence.

“I have a HUGE issue with this,” Edwina Elcox, a Boise-based defence attorney who previously represented “Cult mom” murderer Lori Vallow, told Fox News Digital Monday. “As a former prosecutor, I am of the position that the prosecution’s file should be absolutely open.”

Put differently, she stated that there should be no withholding of any of the prosecution’s evidence.

“Anything should be fair game for defence,” she added. “Maybe it’s useful, maybe it’s not – but it shouldn’t be for the judge to decide.”

Since they weren’t using the IGG evidence to get any warrants, prosecutors have said they shouldn’t be required to send it over. Additionally, according to court filings, they purportedly verified a direct DNA match between Kohberger and the knife sheath DNA using a cheek swab.

“The state’s argument that the IGG investigation is wholly irrelevant since it was not used in obtaining any warrants and will not be used at trial is well supported,” Judge wrote. “Nonetheless, Kohberger is entitled to view at least some of the IGG information in preparing his defence, even if it may ultimately be found to be irrelevant.”

According to court documents, genealogy is the second most popular hobby in the United States, after gardening, at least anecdotally.

The claim has been repeated in popular culture and the media since at least 2012 when ABC News mentioned it in a report following Ancestry.com’s $1.6 billion sale. Over the past ten years, there has been a noticeable rise in the use of investigative genetic genealogy and genealogy in general. However, Fox News Digital was unable to locate any polling or studies to back up the claim.

According to The New Yorker, the field is also the second most searched topic online, after pornography.

Yet according to Teneille Brown, a law professor at the University of Utah, the “hobby has been co-opted by law enforcement to solve cold cases, by linking crime-scene DNA with the DNA of a suspect’s relative, which is contained in a direct-to-consumer genetic database.” It is from a 2019 column.

Although Brown told Fox News Digital on Monday that she doesn’t think the court would conclude that anything regarding IGG violated Kohberger’s Fourth Amendment rights, the defence could want to know how that’s the case given how recent the field is.

“Think of it like as an interview with a neighbour,” she said. “They’re getting caught up on the fact that it seems science fiction because it’s the DNA that was used as circumstantial evidence, but it’s not actually that different from just other ways that we figure out who committed a crime.”

According to her, police would normally not be required to provide up their notes from each interview with a neighbour, and by giving in to the defence’s request for IGG, prosecutors probably don’t want it to set a precedent. Additionally, authorities are reluctant to reveal the identity of unidentified relatives.

However, Elcox asserted that defence lawyers had to be able to examine even commonplace material and that they ought to make an effort to see for themselves whatever the judge examines as well.

“I have personally had a case involving cellphone forensic evidence where the prosecutor fought me every step of the way on giving me full access to the cellphone data,” she told Fox News Digital. “The judge conducted an in-camera review. I still insisted on looking at it myself, probably to the annoyance of everyone involved. I finally got to go to the police station and look at the cellphone data with a detective standing by. I found something that everyone missed. Case dismissed.”

A gag order on the case binds both the prosecution and the defence.

Genealogy databases compile the IGG data and make it accessible to the public so that enthusiasts can investigate their own ancestry.

But even the court is unaware of the IGG details, which is why the judge ordered the review.

Court documents state that while police did not use the FBI’s IGG data to seek any warrants in the case, they did use it to generate leads.

“Through the IGG process, the FBI constructed a family tree of individuals whose DNA matched with the DNA found on the knife sheath,” Judge wrote. “The FBI then sent local law enforcement a tip to investigate Defendant Bryan Kohberger.”

During the inquiry, Pennsylvania police picked up trash from the curb outside the Pocono Mountains home of Kohberger’s parents. There, they supposedly discovered a family match between the knife sheath sample and his father’s DNA.

On December 30, 2022, Kohberger was taken into custody by police.

University of Idaho undergrads made up all four of the victims. According to the affidavit, Kohberger drove a white Hyundai Elantra, the same model of car that investigators identified as the suspect vehicle, and he allegedly turned off his phone before going to and from the crime scene. Kohberger attended the nearby Washington State University where he was pursuing a Ph.D. in criminology.

Citing phone records, the police also claimed that he drove by the victims’ residence hours after the murders and stalked them twelve times before the killings.

In addition to a felony burglary allegation, Kohberger is being held without access to bond on four counts of first-degree murder. At his May arraignment, the judge entered not-guilty pleas on his behalf.

If found guilty, he might be executed.

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