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Idaho college students slaying suspect Bryan Kohberger indicted by grand jury

Kohberger, 28, is expected to be arraigned on murder charges in the stabbings of four University of Idaho students in November.
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An Idaho grand jury Tuesday indicted the man suspected in the fatal stabbings of four college students in November, paving the way for an arraignment on murder charges.

The indictment returned in Latah County against Bryan Kohberger, 28, says he "did unlawfully enter" a home in Moscow, Idaho, and then did "wilfully, unlawfully, deliberately, with premeditation and with malice aforethought, kill and murder" victims Maddie Mogen, 21; Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20.

A preliminary hearing in the case was originally scheduled for next month. Kohberger was arrested in December on four counts of first-degree murder and burglary, accused of breaking into the apartment house with the intent to commit a felony.

But the prosecutors' decision to impanel a grand jury, which was not expected, allows the state to avoid the weeklong preliminary hearing that would have required it to present evidence before a judge, as well as permit the defense counsel to cross-examine witnesses.

The grand jury indictment released Wednesday does not include additional details in the case.

Since January, lawyers, police and other officials have refrained from making statements after Latah County Magistrate Judge Megan Marshall issued a gag order, which a coalition of news organizations is challenging.

A district judge also ruled Wednesday in favor of the state's request to seal the names of the witnesses who testified before the grand jury.

Prosecutors argued that the witnesses could be subject to further harassment and "what appears to be intimidation" and that therefore keeping their identities under wraps would ultimately help ensure a "fair trial with an impartial jury."

Neither prosecutors nor Kohberger's public defender could immediately be reached for comment.

Kohberger has yet to enter a plea; he is expected to do so at an arraignment Monday morning.

Under Idaho law, a trial would have to take place within six months of when a defendant is arraigned, unless the defendant waives the right to a speedy trial.

The four victims were stabbed to death early Nov. 13 at their off-campus residence near the University of Idaho, where they were students. Chapin, Kernodle's boyfriend, had been staying at the home overnight.

A motive remains unclear; Kohberger’s family said in January that they were cooperating with law enforcement to "promote his presumption of innocence."

Investigators said they traced male DNA that was on a knife sheath left at the crime scene to Kohberger, who was then a doctoral student at Washington State University, less than 10 miles from the University of Idaho. Other evidence included security video from the area where a white Hyundai Elantra was spotted that investigators said was driven by Kohberger, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Authorities have not said whether Kohberger knew the victims or why he would have targeted them or the house. The murder weapon, believed to be a large fixed-blade knife, has not been recovered, Moscow police have said.

Kohberger remains in the Latah County Jail without bail.

The quadruple homicide stunned the small community of Moscow, where investigators grappled with what the police chief would later describe as a "very complex" case.

Last weekend, the University of Idaho awarded posthumous bachelor's degrees to the families of Goncalves and Mogen, who were seniors. Kernodle, a junior, and Chapin, a freshman, were also given posthumous certificates.