Idaho prosecutor wants cameras out of Bryan Kohberger courtroom

Lawyers on both sides of the Idaho student murders case have asked the court to restrict TV cameras in court as the unexplained slaughter of four undergrads continues to attract national attention.

Suspect Bryan Kohberger's defense asked Latah County District Judge John Judge to bar cameras from the courtroom in late August, claiming that the media coverage violated a court "directive" and his constitutional rights.


A split photo showing the crime scene and the victims, University of Idaho students Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle, Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves. (Derek Shook for Fox News Digital | Instagram | @xanakernodle/@kayleegoncalves)

In response, Latah County Prosecuting Attorney Bill Thompson raised his own concerns about the media presence during the proceedings and, at a minimum, he asked the judge to remove cameras during the testimony of "a number of young and vulnerable witnesses."

Those include the two surviving housemates who lived with three of the four victims in the King Road rental home where Kohberger allegedly killed Madison Mogen, Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle and Kaylee Goncalves on Nov. 13, 2022 in a 4 a.m. home invasion.

One of those survivors told police she saw a masked man with bushy eyebrows leaving out the rear sliding door minutes after the murders.


Bryan Christopher Kohberger is seen for the first time since his arrest Friday outside the Monroe County Courthouse in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. He is accused of the Moscow, Idaho, quadruple homicide. (Fox News Digital)

Read Thompson's filing

"In addition to, and at least partially as a result of, the substantial traditional and social media coverage, certain witnesses have already been subjected to threats and harassment, including physical intrusions, directed at not only the witnesses and other University coeds, but their extended families and friends," Thompson wrote to the judge.

Judge entered not guilty pleas on Kohberger's behalf to four counts of first-degree murder and a burglary charge at his arraignment in May.

RELATED: FBI investigates key witness for Bryan Kohberger's defense


MOSCOW, IDAHO - AUGUST 18: Bryan Kohberger talks to his attorney Anne Taylor before a hearing on August 18, 2023 in Moscow, Idaho. Kohberger is accused of killing four University of Idaho students in November 2022. (Photo by August Frank-Pool/Getty I

The defendant said through a public defender in his home state of Pennsylvania after his arrest that he looked forward to exoneration. Prosecutors allege that investigators found his DNA on a Ka-Bar knife sheath recovered next to Mogen's body.

During a June 27 hearing, Judge clarified questions regarding a revised gag order on the case and warned the media that he could, potentially, revoke permission for pool cameras in the courtroom.


Public defender Anne Taylor, center, and Bryan Kohberger, right, enter the courtroom for a motion hearing regarding a gag order, Friday, June 9, 2023, in Moscow, Idaho. Kohberger is accused of killing four University of Idaho students in November 202

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Read Kohberger defense's motion to remove cameras

Judge referenced the recent Chad Daybell trial, where cameras were asked to leave because they focused too much on the defendant.

He said cameras in Moscow needed to show a wide shot of the courtroom and not focus strictly on Kohberger if they are to remain throughout the rest of the proceedings. 

Jay Logsdon, an attorney for Kohberger's defense, seized on those remarks in his own filing to remove cameras, arguing that subsequent coverage of the allegations against his client is biasing potential jurors.

"Observers’ continued failure to comply with the Court’s June 27th directive compounds this problem and results in the potential jury pool’s constant inundation with conclusory accusations and sensationalistic nonsense guised as factual reporting and analysis," Logsdon wrote in a filing made public on Aug. 24.


Ultimately, it is up for the court to decide, and judges have chosen differently in high profile cases for decades, including the trials of OJ Simpson, Alex Murdaugh, Daybell and "cult mom" Lori Vallow.

"I would not be surprised, at all, if cameras are banned," said Edwina Elcox, a Boise-based attorney who previously represented Vallow, but not at her murder trial.


The victims of the Nov. 13 University of Idaho massacre. (Instagram @xanakernodle / @maddiemogen / @kayleegoncalves)

Kohberger, who was studying for a Ph.D. in criminology at Washington State University at the time of the slayings, could face the death penalty if convicted. 

WSU is less than 10 miles from the University of Idaho, where all four victims attended.

A hearing on the camera issue is scheduled for Wednesday.