Prosecutors will pursue the death penalty against the man charged in the quadruple murder of four Idaho college students, according to court documents filed Monday.
In the filing, the prosecuting attorney for Latah County pointed to the “aggravating circumstances” in the Nov. 13 killings, describing them as "especially heinous" and saying suspect Bryan Kohberger, 28, allegedly exhibited "utter disregard for human life."
"Consequently, considering all evidence currently known to the State, the State is compelled to file this notice of intent to seek the death penalty," the filing says.
Kohberger was arrested Dec. 30 in the fatal stabbings of 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.
After a grand jury indicted him in May, he was arraigned on four counts of first-degree murder and one count of burglary.
Kohberger, who was pursuing a doctorate in criminal justice from a nearby university at the time of his arrest, has pleaded not guilty.
In an interview with "TODAY," Goncalves' father described the prosecutor's decision as a "major relief" that showed authorities were approaching the case from a position of strength.
"This isn’t something that we’re going to have a party about," Steve Goncalves added. "It’s not something that we really would ever want to look forward to or be a part of. But as a father, if you come after my child, I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that we come after you."
The four students were found dead in their off-campus home in Moscow, nearly 300 miles north of Boise.
In a June 16 filing, prosecutors said investigators also used genetic genealogy — a technique that combines shoe leather genealogical research with DNA analysis — after biological material found on a knife sheath at the scene failed to turn up a match in an FBI database.
The tool was used to develop a family tree of hundreds of relatives to eventually identify Kohberger as a suspect, according to the filing.
In a filing last week, Kohberger's lawyer described the technique as a "bizarrely complex DNA tree experiment" and said there was "no connection" between his client and the four students.