Idaho Murder Roommates to Fill Key Role in Bryan Kohberger Trial

The surviving roommates of three of the University of Idaho murder victims are likely to fill a key role in the upcoming trial for suspect Bryan Kohberger, according to experts.

“The surviving roommates will play an important role in any trial of the Idaho quadruple homicide case. However, while important and dramatic, their testimonies will likely not be determinative in a jury reading a verdict,” former elected state attorney and federal prosecutor, Michael McAuliffe, told Newsweek this week.

On Monday, Kohberger, the 28-year-old suspect arrested in the November 2022 murders of Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Madison Mogen, 21, Ethan Chapin, 20 and Xana Kernodle, 20, appeared in court after he was indicted by a grand jury on four counts of first-degree murder and one count of felony burglary. Kohberger’s lawyer, Anne Taylor, said that her client was “standing still” on the charges, allowing a judge to enter not guilty pleas for each charge.

The four college students were found fatally stabbed in an off-campus residence where Kernodle, Mogen and Goncalves lived, on November 13. Their two other roommates, Dylan Mortensen and Bethany Funke, survived. In the probable cause affidavit used to arrest Kohberger, police shared what they learned from Funke, such as the sounds she heard on the night of the murders and seeing a masked man walking past her room after the murders were believed to be committed.

Bryan Kohberger booking photo
Bryan Kohberger shown above in his booking photo, has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of felony burglary following the deaths of four University of Idaho students. Several experts spoke with Newsweek this week about how the surviving roommates of the four victims will testify in the trial.
Monroe County Correctional Facility

Former FBI agent Jennifer Coffindaffer told Newsweek that both surviving roommates will “100 percent” be called to testify.

Kohberger’s defense team also recently filed a motion claiming that Funke had information that may be “exculpatory to the defendant.”

Neama Rahmani, the President of West Coast Trial Lawyers and a former federal prosecutor, told Newsweek that while Kohberger’s defense team has argued that Funke has “exculpatory” evidence, they have yet to give further explanation as to exactly what that information may be.

“Funke would be an exculpatory witness if she provided evidence of another perpetrator, or if she contradicted other prosecution evidence,” Rahmani said.

According to Rahmani, a testimony by Mortensen could be more helpful for Kohberger’s defense team saying that despite the fact that she described seeing a man in black clothing, “there was reportedly no positive identification.”

“In fact, Mortensen reportedly thought Kohberger was a partygoer and she asked him and her roommates to quiet down. Mortensen’s testimony may help the defense, who will likely argue that it was a ‘party house’ and that there were other possible suspects who entered that night,” Rahmani said.

Similarly, Coffindaffer told Newsweek that Mortensen’s testimony will be “very important” but noted that “the defense will annihilate her or try to,” in regard to when she called the police in comparison to when she initially saw the man walking through their home.

However, McAuliffe said Kohberger’s defense team should not seek to “attack” the two surviving roommates during their testimonies and instead “should try to distance them from any evidence linking the defendant to the murders.”

Newsweek reached out to Kohberger’s lawyer, Anne Taylor via email for comment.

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