The family of the suspect arrested in the slayings of four University of Idaho students are "obviously shocked" at the first-degree murder charges he faces, his lawyer said in an interview with NBC's "TODAY" on Tuesday, hours before the suspect was expected to appear in court in Pennsylvania for an extradition hearing.
"They don't believe it to be Bryan. They can't believe this. They're obviously shocked," said Jason LaBar, the chief public defender of Monroe County. LaBar is representing Bryan Kohberger, 28, in the extradition request — which he said is not being challenged — but is not part of his murder defense.
"This is certainly completely out of character, the allegations, and really they're just trying to be supportive with the understanding these four families have suffered loss, so they're sympathetic towards that, and that's why it should remain really private, and they don't want to try this case in the court of public opinion," LaBar said.
LaBar said he has visited Kohberger in custody four times since his arrest Friday in northeastern Pennsylvania, about 2,500 miles from the Idaho campus.
He told Savannah Guthrie that the suspect — who was a doctoral student in the criminal justice and criminology department at Washington State University at the time of his arrest — has displayed "a calm demeanor" during the visits and denied the allegations.
"It is a little out of character, he said. This is not him. He believes he’s going to be exonerated — that's what he believes, those were his words, so he’s really been very easy to talk to, actually, and he's in a calm demeanor, like I stated," LaBar said.
LaBar said the hearing Tuesday afternoon could last just a few minutes. Kohberger could be on a plane back to Idaho as early as Tuesday night.
Kohberger's family said in their first public statement Sunday that they are cooperating with law enforcement to “promote his presumption of innocence.”
They also expressed sympathy for the families of the four University of Idaho students who were stabbed to death Nov. 13: Ethan Chapin, 20, of Conway, Washington; Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Xana Kernodle, 20, of Avondale, Arizona; and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho.