Idaho murders: Bryan Kohberger leaks a 'huge issue' with 'potential to compromise' prosecution, lawyer warns
MOSCOW, Idaho - A slow but consistent stream of leaks in the Idaho student murders case could have dire consequences for prosecutors seeking justice for four undergrads found stabbed to death late last year, according to a veteran defense attorney in the state.
While the case against Bryan Kohberger is currently under a restrictive gag order that itself is facing a challenge in court, investigators and attorneys for both sides, as well as the victims, survivors and their families, are limited in what they can publicly say about the case.
"It’s a huge issue that this source is leaking information," Edwina Elcox, the Boise-based former attorney of "Cult Mom" child killing suspect Lori Vallow. "That has the potential to compromise the integrity of the investigation and prosecution of the case."
There are fears that too much exposure to the closely followed, national news story could taint the jury pool in Latah County, a rural swath of farmland and mountains in Northern Idaho where more than half live in Moscow, the college town where all four slain University of Idaho students were living.
"If an employee of my office did that, they would unequivocally no longer be employed," Elcox added.
The remarks came after a series of reports in which unnamed law enforcement sources made claims about the stabbing suspect and the evidence against him – including that he allegedly had a stockpile of photos of one of the victims on his phone and sent at least one of them messages over Instagram before the crime.
"I understand Kohberger fancied himself as intelligent," Elcox said. "But as a Criminology Ph.D. student, it should have been abundantly obvious that maintaining pictures of one of the victims could prove to be problematic for him."
Even if he had them, then deleted them, investigators could be able to recover the data, she said.
"If the information contained in the search warrant affidavits is accurate, he clearly had at least a cursory understanding of cellphone technology," she said. "Perhaps he was just so arrogant, he thought he was smarter than investigators but couldn’t help but keep pictures that he could readily access."
RELATED: Idaho murders suspect Bryan Kohberger had photos of victim on phone weeks after massacre: report
Kohberger is accused of sneaking into the house around 4 a.m. on Nov. 13, 2022, after the victims had been seen partying at different locations around Moscow, a typically serene college town in the Idaho mountains, near the border with Washington state.
Inside, police allege he brutally stabbed four students to death – 21-year-olds Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncavles and 20-year-olds Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin.
Ethan Chapin, Kayle Goncalves, Maddison Mogen and Xana Kernodle, who were stabbed to death Nov. 13. (Fox News)
All four were stabbed multiple times with a large knife, according to the Latah County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt. Only some had defensive wounds, and others may have been ambushed in their sleep.
According to the police affidavit, Kohberger left behind a Ka-Bar knife sheath with DNA on the snap. Investigators recovered it in Mogen's bed, next to her body, and found a paternal DNA match in the garbage can at Kohberger's parents' house on the other side of the country.
Kohberger lived in an apartment in Pullman, Washington, where he was studying for a Ph.D. in the school's department of criminal justice and criminology. The campus is across the state line but less than 10 miles from the University of Idaho.
He had allegedly been stalking the King Road home for weeks – making passes on at least a dozen occasions and returning once more hours after the murders.
University officials announced on Friday that the landlord had donated the King Road property and that they plan to demolish it.
They also said a memorial garden will be constructed at an undecided location in honor of the victims and other students who have died.
Kohberger is being held without bail in the Latah County Jail. His next scheduled court date is June 26.