Quadruple homicide suspect Bryan Kohberger opposes a motion to loosen the gag order
The man accused of stabbing four University of Idaho students to death in November has objected to a motion from one of the victims’ families to appeal the gag order in his case.
The objection, filed Thursday, comes less than a week after Shannon Gray, the attorney representing the family of victim Kaylee Goncalves, filed a challenge to the gag order in state court that said the order is too broad and places an undue burden on the families.
In the motion to appeal, Gray said the nondissemination order, commonly known as a gag order, “constitutes an intolerable prior restraint on free speech.”
Bryan Kohberger, 28, faces four counts of felony first-degree murder and a felony burglary charge in the Nov. 13 attack that took the lives of Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum; Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene; Xana Kernodle, 20, of Post Falls; and Ethan Chapin, 20, of Mount Vernon, Washington.
Kohberger’s defense team, Kootenai County public defender Anne Taylor and chief deputy litigator Jay Weston Logsdon, wrote in their objection to the family’s appeal of the gag order that the U.S. Supreme Court has determined certain parties’ First Amendment rights to free speech may be limited when exercising those rights would result in prejudice against the defendant.
The objection also said Kohberger has a right to a “speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury,” which could be threatened by “pretrial expression.”
The sweeping gag order was issued by Latah County Magistrate Judge Megan Marshall in January in response to widespread publicity surrounding the case. It bars attorneys, law enforcement agencies and others associated with the case from talking or writing about it. Marshall said the restriction of certain speech is needed to ensure Kohberger’s right to a fair trial.
In addition to the Goncalves’ family, a coalition of news organizations from around the region, including the Idaho Statesman, the Associated Press and The New York Times, is challenging the gag order, saying it violates the right to free speech.