Bryan Kohberger’s Lawyer Is Betting on ‘Strategic’ Move

Lawyers for quadruple homicide suspect Bryan Kohberger are betting on a “strategic” move in the case, a judge said last week.

On Friday, Judge John Judge, who is overseeing the case, responded to survey questions from the defense to potential jurors, calling them a “strategic decision.”

“The goal of the Nondissemination Order is to ensure fair and impartial jury can be impaneled so that Defendant receives fair trial,” the judge said. “If defense counsel believes asking these survey questions, which arguably contain prejudicial information or misinformation about Defendant, is more beneficial than harmful, as Defendant’s expert testified, this Court does not, at this juncture, have sufficient information or evidence to second guess that strategic decision by trial counsel.”

The remarks by the judge came shortly after Kohberger’s lawyer, Anne Taylor, said that the survey results of the potential jurors showed that the jury pool in Latah County, Idaho, was “biased.”

Bryan Kohberger
Bryan Kohberger enters the courtroom for a hearing at the Latah County Courthouse on June 27, 2023, in Moscow, Idaho. Kohberger is accused of killing four University of Idaho students in November 2022. On April…

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Kohberger, 29, has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of felony burglary in connection with the fatal stabbings of Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Madison Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Ethan Chapin, 20. The four University of Idaho students were found dead in an off-campus home on November 13, 2022, at 1122 King Road, Moscow, Idaho.

Kohberger has maintained his innocence and his legal team has continued to seek to have the trial moved out of Latah County.

The survey questions were previously criticized by Judge and Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson.

“This was a total shock to me,” Judge told Taylor. “Because this is a big deal, and I take it very, very seriously. And I was surprised, OK, that this was happening behind our backs—my back.”

Thompson told the judge that “this survey cannot stand,” saying that potential jurors were “injected” with information.

Michael McAuliffe, a former federal prosecutor, told Newsweek on Tuesday that the judge’s order allowing the survey to stand shows that “the presiding judge in the Kohberger case was influenced by the fact that both parties discussed the challenged questions in multiple public hearings.”

“Another critical component of the court’s reasoning in permitting the survey questions to continue being asked in several counties is that the defense is the party asking the questions that contain incriminating information and ‘arguably prejudicial’ facts. The judge refers to the defense counsel’s choice as ‘strategic,'” McAuliffe said.

“One way to interpret that reference is the court is protecting the record against future allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel. It also makes it much less likely that the survey result could support a change of venue request as it is the defendant who is using potentially prejudicial information in a way that’s public.”

Kohberger’s defense team also recently released new information on a possible alibi and said that they plan to call Sy Ray, a former police officer who specializes in analyzing cellphone data in criminal cases, as a defense witness.

Ray will testify that “Bryan Kohberger’s mobile device was south of Pullman, Washington and west of Moscow, Idaho on November 13, 2022; that Bryan Kohberger’s mobile device did not travel east on the Moscow-Pullman Highway in the early morning hours of November 13th, and thus could not be the vehicle captured on video along the Moscow-Pullman highway near Floyd’s Cannabis shop,” the defense said.

The probable cause affidavit used in the arrest of Kohberger said that his cellphone pinged near the home several times before the killings.

Newsweek reached out to Taylor and Thompson via email for comment.