Idaho quadruple murders suspect Bryan Kohberger has lost his bid to ban cameras in the courtroom – but the judge issued a stern warning that he wanted more control over what is being filmed during proceedings.
Latah County District Court Judge John Judge made the announcement at the start of Friday’s hearing about what he expects from the media and the spectators in the courtroom as he urged them to ‘be patient and to have some dignity and restraint.’
‘I’m not going to ban cameras in the courtroom, but I need to have more control over what the cameras are doing and what media, or people who are not media, are doing with the filming,’ he said.
The judge has taken issue in the past with how some of the courtroom images and recordings have been used.
Both the prosecution and defense have urged the judge in court filings to ban cameras.
The move created a conundrum as the court must balance the public’s First Amendment rights and Kohberger’s Sixth Amendment and 14th Amendment rights to a fair trial.
Pictured: Latah County District Court Judge John Judge made the announcement at the start of Friday’s hearing on what he expects from the media and the spectators in the courtroom, as he urged them to ‘be patient and to have some dignity and restraint’
Bryan Kohberger (pictured) enters a courtroom for a hearing in Moscow, Idaho, on October 26, 2023. A judge has declined to dismiss a grand jury indictment against Kohberger, accused of fatally stabbing four University of Idaho students
Victims: Kaylee Goncalves,21; Madison Mogen, 21 (on Kaylee’s shoulders); Ethan Chapin, 20; and Xana Kernodle, 20- were fatally stabbed in their off-campus home on November 13, 2022
Kohberger’s defense lawyers have previously argued that cameras could jeopardize the fairness and privacy of the trial.
Prosecutors have cited their own concerns about cameras during the testimony due to the ‘young and vulnerable witnesses.’
During the hearing, the judge reiterated what would occur if anyone violates the rules, which would include taking away a person’s laptop or phone.
‘Some of thee rules have been violated in some of our hearings and I have an obligation to put a stop to that,’ he urged.
The judge said he would consider excluding camera coverage of some sensitive witness testimony, as requested by the prosecutors.
He also told the photographers in the hearing not to focus on tabletops where lawyers placed their notes and not to focus continually on the defendant.
A formal order has not yet been put into place.
In May, Kohberger was indicted and charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of burglary in the the fatal stabbing of four University of Idaho students – Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Madison Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Ethan Chapin, 20, at their home in Moscow, Idaho, in the early hours of November 13 last year.
The court had already issued a restrictive gag order on the case, which prevents lawyers from both sides, investigators and even expert witnesses from discussing details beyond the public record, Fox News reported.
During a June 27 hearing the judge said: ‘We don’t want to have a trial in the media or in the public. We want it to be in the courtroom.’
But months later, added: ‘I know I can only control so much, and that’s why I continue to urge people to be patient and have some dignity and some restraint.’
Latah County District Court Judge John Judge said: ‘I know I can only control so much, and that’s why I continue to urge people to be patient and have some dignity and some restraint’
Bryan Kohberger listens to arguments during a hearing in Moscow, Idaho, on October 26, 2023 as the judge declined to dismiss a grand jury indictment against him
Last week, Kohberger’s latest bid for freedom was denied after he failed to have the indictment for murder overturned due to what he said were incorrect Grand Jury instructions.
During the two-part hearing in Latah County Court, Kohberger’s attorneys argued that his indictment should be dismissed
The defense was seeking a preliminary hearing on the evidence – which was privately reviewed in May by an Idaho grand jury who then sent the case to trial