Idaho judge allows Bryan Kohberger’s jury pool survey to resume

The Idaho judge overseeing the murder case against student stabbings suspect Bryan Kohberger is allowing the defense to resume polling potential jurors after prosecutors claimed questions could have damaged the jury pool.

Latah County Prosecuting Attorney Bill Thompson argued that some of the questions in the survey violated a restrictive gag order on the case, which prevents the parties from making extrajudicial statements about facts – and in this case, rumors – that are not included in the public court record.

And the survey so alarmed county residents that they called police and Thompson’s office to report it.

Judge John Judge found that two of the nine disputed questions were not part of the public record — however, after they were read in court, that changed.

IDAHO MURDERS: BRYAN KOHBERGER DEFENSE ‘FIRMLY BELIEVES’ IN SUSPECT’S INNOCENCE

Bryan Kohberger arrives at Monroe County Courthouse in Pennsylvania in advance of highly anticipated extradition hearing. He’s charged with the murders of four University of Idaho students. (The Image Direct for Fox News Digital)

“These questions have now been read into the public record and discussed at length, including the fact that these ‘media items’ may not be true,” Judge wrote. “Because the information is now in the public record, the court does not see any benefit in preventing the defense from continuing its surveys or requiring that the two questions at issue be eliminated.”

Judge also reminded the parties that the gag order is not a complete ban on speaking to the media and that Kohberger’s defense, led by Kootenai County Public Defender Anne Taylor, could have publicly addressed damaging rumors about her client.

IDAHO MURDERS: BRYAN KOHBERGER JUDGE SLAMS DEFENSE QUIZZING LOCALS, SAYS SURVEY ‘CONCERNS’ HIM

Anne Taylor, an attorney representing Bryan Kohberger, who is accused of killing four University of Idaho students in November 2022, arrives at a hearing in Latah County District Court, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, in Moscow, Idaho. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, Pool)

“The nondissemination order also allows extrajudicial statements ‘that a reasonable lawyer would believe is required to protect a client from the substantial undue prejudicial effect of recent publicity not initiated by the lawyer or the lawyer’s client. Any such statement shall be limited to such information as is necessary to mitigate the recent adverse publicity,'” Judge wrote.

“Defense counsel argued at length that the two ‘media items’ not contained in the public record were the subject of extensive media coverage that was prejudicial to defendant and that the survey questions asking potential jurors if they had read, seen, or heard these ‘media items’ was necessary to support defendant’s motion for change of venue, which is aimed at mitigating the effects of prejudicial pretrial publicity on defendant’s right to a fair trial.”

Taylor did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

IDAHO MURDERS SUSPECT BRYAN KOHBERGER WAS UNKNOWN TO VICTIMS, LAWYER SAYS

Judge John Judge speaks during a hearing Friday, Aug. 18, 2023, at the Latah County Courthouse in Moscow, U.S.  (August Frank/Pool via REUTERS)

Kohberger is due back in court on June 27 for a hearing on his team’s request to have the trial moved to a larger county.

The survey is part of the defense’s effort to show that Latah County, with a population of about 40,000, has too small a jury pool to ensure the accused killer would receive a fair trial.

Kohberger, who was studying for a Ph.D. in criminology at Washington State University at the time of the stabbings, is accused of driving across the state line and massacring four University of Idaho undergrads in a 4 a.m. home invasion attack.

KOHBERGER LAWYER ALLEGES PUBLIC BIAS AS RESIDENTS CALLED POLICE AFTER BEING CONTACTED IN JUROR SURVEY

Madison Mogen, top left, smiles on the shoulders of her best friend, Kaylee Goncalves, as they pose with Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle, and two other housemates in Goncalves’ final Instagram post, shared the day before the four students were stabbed to death. (@kayleegoncalves/Instagram)

The victims were Maddie Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves, both 21, their housemate Xana Kernodle, 20, and her visiting boyfriend Ethan Chapin, also 20.

Kohberger faces four charges of first-degree murder and a felony burglary count.

Judge entered not guilty pleas on his behalf for all charges during an arraignment last year.

Kohberger could face the death penalty if convicted.

The defense is pushing for a change of venue to a larger county with more potential jurors in the jury pool, suggesting Ada, Bonneville and Bannock counties.

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