The murder trial of Bryan Kohberger, the suspect charged with stabbing four University of Idaho students to death on Nov. 13, 2022, will be livestreamed on the court’s YouTube channel, the Latah County judge in the case ruled.
The ruling from Judge John C. Judge means the public will have one method of trial access as prosecutors seek to prove that Kohberger, who will turn 29 on Tuesday, is the one who murdered Ethan Chapin, 20, Xana Kernodle, 20, Kaylee Goncalves, 21, and Madison Mogen, 21, at an off-campus house on King Road in Moscow more than one year ago.
At the same time, the ruling did put up hurdles for media coverage of the trial, as it cut against the position of the media coalition, led by the Associated Press, which argued in favor of “audio/visual coverage” and cameras inside the courtroom.
“[T]he Court grants Kohberger’s Motion to Remove Cameras from Courtroom as it pertains to cameras, both still and video, operated by the media,” Judge John C. Judge wrote. “However, the Court will continue to allow the proceedings to be videoed by a Court operated camera system.”
“This will help to alleviate the concerns raised by both the defense and the State, but at the same time will ensure the public still has access to see the proceedings for themselves if they cannot attend hearings in-person,” the judge reasoned.
The jurist indicated that previous violations of a court order — “not to film or take photographs until the Court is on the record and to immediately stop recording and taking photographs when the hearing concludes” — played a role in concluding that protecting Kohberger’s right to a fair trial outweighed requests for additional media access in the courtroom.
“It is the intense focus on Kohberger and his every move, along with adverse headlines and news articles, that leads the Court to conclude that continued photograph and video coverage inside the courtroom by the media should no longer be permitted,” the judge wrote. “This step should help ensure Kohberger’s right to a fair trial by an impartial jury and achieve a proper administration of justice.”
The judge cited the high-profile child murders case against “Doomsday cult” mom Lori Vallow to support his decision (case number removed for ease of reading) barring broader courtroom access:
As was noted by District Judge Steven W. Boyce in his Memorandum Decision and Order Prohibiting Video and Photographic Coverage in the case of State of Idaho v. Lori Norene Vallow aka Lori Norene Vallow Daybell “[a]greement between the State and Defense on any issue in a capital case is rare, further confirming to the Court the legitimacy and level of concern counsel have raised.” The same is true in this case.
The Kohberger ruling said that the judge was “not accusing all journalists and media outlets of violating the Court’s orders,” but rather asserting “greater control over what is being videoed” to “lessen the burden on the bailiffs” and “help to alleviate” the concerns of Kohberger’s lawyers.
The ruling included a link to the YouTube channel where the trial will be streamed.
Read the judge’s order here.
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