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Suspect in Idaho student murders will accept extradition, lawyer says

(CNN) — The suspect in the murders of four University of Idaho students plans to accept extradition to that state during a hearing this week, his lawyer said, with the goal of expediting his return to where he faces four counts of first-degree murder.

Bryan Christopher Kohberger is “a little bit shaken up,” Jason LaBar, a public defender for Monroe County, Pennsylvania, told CNN on Saturday, a day after the 28-year-old’s arrest in that state on charges related to the murder on May 13. November Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20. According to Latah County, Idaho District Attorney Bill Thompson, Kohberger also faces a felony charge of robbery.

Kohberger’s family said “no words can adequately express the sadness we feel,” according to a statement by LaBar released Sunday on his behalf, the family’s first public statement since the suspect’s arrest Friday.

“First of all, we are deeply concerned for the four families who have lost their children. There are no words that can adequately express the sadness we feel, and we pray for them every day,” the statement said. “We will continue to let the legal process play out and as a family we will love and support our son and brother. We have fully cooperated with law enforcement in an attempt to seek the truth and promote their presumption of innocence rather than prosecute unknown facts and make wrong assumptions.

LaBar did not discuss the murder case with the suspect when they spoke for about an hour Friday night, the lawyer said, adding that he had no probable cause documents related to him and that he is only representing Kohberger in the matter of his extradition. , which the lawyer described as “formality”.

“It’s a procedural matter, and really all the state has to prove here is that he resembles or is the person the warrant is out against and was in the area at the time of the crime,” LaBar said.

Accepting extradition at Tuesday’s hearing was “an easy decision, obviously,” LaBar said, “since he’s not denying that he’s Bryan Kohberger.”

Kohberger is presumed innocent until proven guilty, LaBar said in a statement, noting:

“Mr. Kohberger is eager to be cleared of these charges and looks forward to resolving these matters as soon as possible.”

LaBar expected Kohberger to return to Idaho within 72 hours of Tuesday’s hearing, the attorney said.

extradition suspect idaho

Four University of Idaho students were murdered in the early hours of November 13 in this house. Credit:Ted S. Warren/AP

The arrest of the suspect — a doctoral student at Washington State University’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, the university confirmed — comes nearly seven weeks after the victims were found stabbed to death in an off-campus home. Since then, investigators have collected some 20,000 leads and conducted more than 300 interviews on the case, according to statements.

Authorities have yet to publicly confirm the suspect’s motive, including whether he knew the victims, whose deaths shocked the university community and the surrounding city of Moscow. The murder weapon has not been located either, Moscow Police Chief James Fry reported on Friday.

In the weeks since the murders, some members of the community have been frustrated that investigators have yet to offer a full account of how the tragedy unfolded. Authorities have released limited details, including the activities of the victims before the attacks and the people they have ruled out as suspects.

State law limits the information authorities can release before Kohberger’s first appearance in court in Idaho, Fry told reporters Friday. The probable cause affidavit, which details the factual basis for the charges against him, is sealed until the suspect is physically in Latah County and served with the Idaho warrant, Thompson said.

Investigators identified Kohberger as a suspect based on DNA testing and confirmation that he was the owner of a white Hyundai Elantra seen near the scene of the crime, according to two law enforcement sources briefed on the investigation. The authorities affirm that he lived a few minutes from the scene of the crime.

The suspect crossed the country in a white Hyundai Elantra and arrived at his parents’ home in Pennsylvania around Christmas time, according to a law enforcement source. Authorities began tracking him down at some point on his journey east from Idaho.

Kohberger, accompanied by his father, had driven from Idaho to Pennsylvania to celebrate the holidays with his family, LaBar confirmed.

An FBI surveillance team tracked him for four days before his arrest, while law enforcement worked with prosecutors to develop probable cause sufficient to obtain a warrant, the two law enforcement sources said.

Genetic genealogy techniques were used to match Kohberger to unidentified DNA evidence, another source with knowledge of the case told CNN. The DNA was analyzed in a public database for possible matches with family members, and subsequent investigative work by law enforcement led to the identification of him as a suspect, the source explained.

According to LaBar, a white Hyundai Elantra was found at his parents’ home, where Kohberger was taken into custody by authorities early Friday.

— Jean Casarez, Lauren DeValle, John Miller, Mark Morales, Pamela Brown, Josh Campbell, Elizabeth Joseph, Stephanie Becker, Veronica Miracle, and Paul P. Murphy contributed reporting.

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