(NewsNation) — The judge overseeing the trial of Bryan Kohberger, who faces murder charges in the death of four University of Idaho students, set a deadline for prosecutors to turn over DNA evidence critical to the case.
Judge John Judge previously agreed to review the familial DNA evidence prosecutors used to help identify Kohberger as a suspect and determine what information would be necessary to turn over to the defense, a move which some regarded as a win for Kohberger’s defense team.
In court on Thursday, prosecutors pinned the blame for the delay in getting all of the genetic genealogy information on the process of obtaining reports from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the private lab used by investigators.
Judge set a deadline of Dec. 1, 2023, saying he preferred to review all of the evidence at one time. He did note a potential for future delays if the Department of Justice has not produced the requested reports by the deadline.
NewsNation’s Brian Entin noted genetic genealogy is how prosecutors identified Kohberger as a suspect, so the evidence could be hugely important for Kohberger’s defense. But there are privacy concerns with the information, because the names and genetic information of individuals totally unrelated to the case could be included in family trees in the reports.
Kohberger is facing charges in the deaths of four University of Idaho college students, Madison Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin. The four students were found dead in an off-campus house in a stabbing that shocked the small town of Moscow, Idaho.
It took more than a month for investigators to arrest Kohberger, a graduate student in criminology at Washington State University, located just a few miles from Moscow.
Investigators identified Kohberger using genetic genealogy, a process that takes DNA evidence and compares it to genetic information from family members that may be found on genealogy sites like Ancestry.com or 23andMe. Investigators use DNA to identify possible family connections which, combined with other evidence like the white Hyundai Elantra seen near the scene, can help narrow down a suspect.
Kohberger was arrested at his family’s home in Pennsylvania before being brought back to Idaho where he has remained in jail. He is facing four charges of first-degree murder and one charge of burglary. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
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