A former attorney for convicted murderer Scott Peterson says that Bryan Kohberger’s defense counsel should be able to “poke holes in every single of these pieces” of evidence law enforcement have publicly released in the case accusing the criminal justice graduate student of the grisly quadruple homicide that took the lives of four University of Idaho students late last year.
During the early morning hours of Nov. 13, 2022, Ethan Chapin, 20, Xana Kernodle, 20 Kaylee Goncalves, 21, and Madison Mogen, 21, were stabbed to death on the second and third floors of an off-campus house in the college town of Moscow. Some of the victims were killed as they slept, according to the Latah County Coroner.
Kohberger was arrested earlier this month at his parents’ home in Pennsylvania after a cross-country trek with his father in a white Hyundai Elantra — the same make and model of a car that law enforcement identified as a subject of their investigation in the aftermath of the shocking massacre.
Lara Yeretsian sat down for an interview with Law&Crime Network reporter Angenette Levy during a recent episode of Sidebar. Near the end of that interview, the onetime member of Peterson’s defense team took issue with the strength of some evidence marshaled against the defendant in a probable cause affidavit.
Levy recounted perhaps the most dramatic account from that court document – an account by surviving roommate Dylan Mortensen.
The probable cause affidavit reads:
D.M. stated she opened her door for the third time after she heard the crying and saw a figure clad in black clothing and a mask that covered the person’s mouth and nose walking towards her. D.M. described the figure as 5’10” or taller, male, not very muscular, but athletically built with bushy eyebrows. The male walked past D.M. as she stood in a “frozen shock phase.” The male walked towards the back sliding glass door.
“[She] says she saw a man clad in black, walk toward her door, going out the sliding glass door, and she said he had bushy eyebrows,” the host prompted her guest. “To our knowledge she hasn’t said: ‘Yeah, that was him,’ but she gives a description.”
“She can’t say that was him because his face is covered,” Yeretsian replied. “Again, all of this is circumstantial evidence. And I would expect the defense to be attacking every single piece of evidence that they had at least mentioned in that affidavit. Because there are ways to poke holes in every single of these pieces, right?”
The defense attorney then went on to analyze how Kohberger’s own lawyers might dispute the DNA evidence found at the scene on a sheath for a knife believed to be the murder weapon. The Moscow Police Department alleges the DNA on the sheath leads back to Kohberger through a genealogical profile based on the suspect’s father’s DNA.
“On December 28, 2022, the Idaho State Lab reported that a DNA profile obtained from the [Kohberger family] trash and the DNA profile obtained from the sheath, identified a male as not being excluded as the biological father of [the suspect],” the affidavit says. “At least 99.9998% of the male population would be expected to be excluded from the possibility of being the suspect’s biological father.”
Yeretsian was less than impressed.
“This could have been something that he maybe touched it at some other time – transfer type DNA – it could have happened on a previous night, on a previous date,” she mused. “Or, there may be issues with the DNA testing itself. And, I’m sure the defense will hire their own expert and do their own testing.”
“If there’s any issues, they’re gonna bring it up,” the attorney went on.
In her most critical tone, Yeretsian dismissively referred to the “phone-related information” cited by law enforcement so far.
According to MPD Corporal Brett Payne, Kohberger’s phone used the same cellular tower that provided coverage to the victims’ house “on at least twelve occasions prior to November 13, 2022.”
“He could have been anywhere,” the defense attorney said. “He lives eight to ten miles away from this location where the crime occurred. He could have just been – eight to ten miles away and, and the cell towers would have, he would have, his phone would have picked up the cell tower in the area of the residence where the students were. That’s nothing strange.”
[image via screengrab/Law&Crime Network]
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