Bryan Kohberger’s defence in Idaho murders case could cost taxpayers more than $8,000 per week
The defence of Idaho murders suspect Bryan Kohberger could cost taxpayers thousands of dollars per week.
Mr Kohberger, who is being represented by Kootenai County Chief Public Defender Anne Taylor, is accused of murdering Madison Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kerndole and Ethan Chapin on 13 November. The 28-year-old is facing four counts of first-degree murder and one count of felony burglary in Latah County.
A public record request obtained by KREM2 shows the staggering cost of Mr Kohberger’s defence - coming from taxpayer coffers. Latah County, where the murders took place, agreed to pay a fee of $200 per hour for Ms Taylor’s services during the 40-hour work-week — and she may work overtime but will be compensated at the same rate.
A second-seat attorney was also hired for $180 per hour, while investigators chosen by Ms Taylor will be paid an hourly rate of $45. Gas, lodging and meal expenses when travelling from Kootenai County to Latah County will also be refunded to the legal team.
It is unclear how many hours of their 40-hour work week Ms Taylor and her team will employ in the high-profile case. But her fees could sum up to $8,000 per week in the weeks leading up to Mr Kohberger’s preliminary hearing in late June.
Ms Taylor requested last month that the next court date be delayed until the summer to give the defence more time to review all the evidence in the case.
The prosecution agreed with the request and the judge scheduled the preliminary hearing for the week beginning 26 June, setting aside the entire week for the hearing.
Ms Taylor’s appointment to the case sparked controversy after it emerged that she once represented relatives of two of Mr Kohebrger’s alleged victims.
The Kootenai Chief Public Defender has since recused herself from representing Kernodle’s mother Cara Denise Northington. Ms Northington, who claimed Ms Taylor had power of attorney over her, said she felt “betrayed” by the decision.
She was also the attorney for Mogen’s father and stepmother as recently as June 2022. Ms Taylor is one of 13 qualified public defenders in the state to represent clients in a potential death penalty case.
Prosecutors have not officially announced plans to seek the death penalty. If the state files to seek capital punishment within 30 days of Mr Kohberger’s expected plea in June, part of his defence could be covered by the Idaho Association of Counties’ voluntary capital crimes defence fund, per KREM2.
Mr Kohberger was linked to the murders through DNA found on a knife sheath left behind at the scene, cellphone data and surveillance video of what prosecutors believe to be his white Hyundai Elantra leaving the scene after the slayings.
One of the victims’ surviving roommates was also able to partially describe the killer to investigators after she came face to face with him in the aftermath of the murders.
In January, police in Washington unsealed search warrants for Mr Kohberger’s apartment in Pullman and his office at Washington State University (WSU).
The searches were carried out on the same day that he was taken into police custody in Pennsylvania. The unsealed documents reveal that investigators seized a string of items from his home including possible human and animal hair strands, a disposable glove, items with red and brown stains and a computer.
The murder weapon – a fixed-blade knife – was not recovered during the searches and it is still unclear where it may be.