Bryan Kohberger: Response to Alibi Demand Analysis | Idaho College Murders Case

Bryan Kohberger’s public defense attorney, Anne Taylor, just filed a supplemental response to the state’s alibi demand on April 17, and I thought the content deserved a critical analysis. Hence, this article, which continues the pre-trial examination of the Idaho College murders case.

I will briefly analyze the main elements of the document, the ones I think may be relevant as court proceedings advance. So, here we go…

  • Mr. Kohberger moved to Pullman, Washington in June of 2022.– This is five months prior to the murders that took place on November 13th, 2022.

 

  • As an avid runner and hiker, he explored many areas of the Palouse. Of note, he explored Wawawai Park in July of  2022 and this became a favorite location. – Both the University of Idaho in Moscow and Washington State University in Pullman belong to the Palouse region. The mention of Palouse creates a context of justified exploration for any student of these universities. The “avid runner and hiker” part is there to create an image of Kohberger as an outdoorsy guy, but it’s not enough to prove the claim, defense would also have to provide evidence that this is a recurrent activity in this particular student’s life. Also worth noting is that the Wawawai Park is situated in the opposite direction from Moscow when Pullman is the reference. They cleverly offered a point of interest that 1. places Kohberger, at least mentally, away from Moscow, and 2. tells the court and the public that his exploration of the area would take him either way – West or East of his new location in Pullman. “This became a favorite location,” is a way to further accentuate the fact that he would usually go away from Moscow, not toward it. It works, for now, but it can also highlight the unusual presence of Kohberger near Moscow right on the night of the murders, or near that date.
  • After the school year began, Mr. Kohberger was busy with classes and work at Washington State University and his running and hiking decreased but did not stop. Instead, his nighttime drives increased.” Readers need to get from this that Bryan Kohberger was a hard-working, responsible, driven young man, who would prioritize his education and work over the running and hiking. These activities, the document says, “decreased but did not stop”. This is a way of saying “expect to see him in the area around Pullman, it’s still normal for him”. “His nighttime drives increased” – This is supposed to have the same effect, desensitizing the reader to the idea that Kohberger’s presence in or near Moscow, in a car, would be something specific to the period surrounding the murders.
  • This is supported by data from Mr. Kohberger’s phone showing him in the countryside late at night and/or in the early morning on several occasions. – The data might be relevant if, and only if, it would also provide timestamps and/or other time-related information that place him more specifically in a certain location at a certain time. Otherwise, many people have been here and there “late at night and/or in the early morning on several occasions.” It doesn’t mean anything. It’s just more words to say the same thing that the defense’s been saying since the beginning of the document: “Our client was taking trips to areas that did include the Moscow region – even though we didn’t specifically mention Moscow – often, at all hours of night and day. Nothing to see here.” So far, this doesn’t read like an alibi at all. If anything, it relatively places Kohberger in the area of the murders.
  • “The phone data includes numerous photographs taken on several different late evenings and early mornings, including in November, depicting the night sky.” – Starting to seem sketchier. What again appears to be relevant data or evidence – photos – does nothing to help Kohberger’s alibi claim. He is the primary suspect in four murders that happened in an area he was no stranger to. The fact that he took photos of the sky makes no difference in relation to that suspicion. What other photos did he take on those trips, I wonder? Was the criminology PhD student already building an alibi when taking those photos? Was that the sky as seen near the 1122 King Road in Moscow? The information by itself does nothing in terms of offering Kohberger an alibi.
  • “Mr. Kohberger was out driving in the early morning hours of November 13, 2022; as he often did to hike and run and/or see the moon and stars.” – This is the actual alibi they provide for him and frankly, it’s laughable. They do not only repeat the same single idea they’ve been pushing for several paragraphs now – “Our client used to run and hike in the area”; we’re not idiots, nor is the judge, we all got it the first time – but they make an attempt at emotional manipulation and try to make the guy seem as some sort of romantic nature enthusiast who would drive for hours at night just to “see the moon and stars”. Give me a break. I am all open to the idea of Kohberger being ultimately proven as not guilty, if the prosecution fails to provide better evidence for his implication in the horrific events of November 13, but this is a direct insult to everyone’s intelligence. “Our client watched the moon and the stars, in the exact night of the murders, very near to the house where the crimes took place. He’s obviously innocent, we rest our case”. Seriously?
  • “He drove throughout the area south of Pullman, Washington, west of Moscow, Idaho including Wawawai Park.” – Unless I am completely incapable of reading a map of the area – which I accept might very well be the case – what they’re saying here is that Kohberger was nowhere near the Moscow house on that night. Everything they list, including the park, is West of Moscow and therefore, not in Moscow.

The PARTIAL CORROBORATION segment of the document is the real treat, though, and makes the bold suggestion that it can turn everything on its head.

  • “Mr. Kohberger intends to offer testimony of Sy Ray, CSLI expert, (cell tower, cell phone and other radio frequency, curricula vitae is attached) to show that Bryan Kohberger’s mobile device was south of Pullman, Washington and west of Moscow, Idaho on November 13, 2022; that Bryan Kohberger’s mobile device did not travel east on the Moscow-Pullman Highway in the early morning hours of November 13th, and thus could not be the vehicle captured on video along the Moscow-Pullman highway near Floyd’s Cannabis shop.” – Dun, dun, dun. The plot thickens. Kohberger’s defense team claims they have an expert witness ready to testify that the cell data collected by the prosecution can be interpreted in a different way than the one put forward in the arrest affidavit. If true, if at least doubt can be cast on Kohberger’s location that night, one significant piece of evidence from the prosecution’s side will go right down the drain. And, from what we know so far, it’s not like they have all that many bits of evidence connecting Kohberger to the victims or the crime scene, let alone the crime itself.

And now, the real kicker…

  • “Additional information as to Mr. Kohberger’s whereabouts as the early morning hours progressed, including additional analysis by Mr. Ray will be provided once the State provides discovery requested and now subject to an upcoming Motion to Compel . If not disclosed, Mr. Ray’s testimony will also reveal that critical exculpatory evidence, further corroborating Mr. Kohberger’s alibi, was either not preserved or has been withheld.” – Anne Taylor & Co. imply that the prosecution is aware of the fact that Kohberger’s cell data does not implicate him in the murders, and that they’ve knowingly withheld what the defense calls “exculpatory evidence”. However, it makes me wonder why the defense itself didn’t jump directly to offering the alleged exculpatory evidence to the court and decided instead to make it dependent on the prosecution’s moves. So, at this point in time, I rather suspect this is an attempt by Kohberger’s team to make the prosecution show more of their cards before the game begins. Or, done in a very intelligent way, an attempt to discredit the accusers and other law enforcement working the case. Smart strategy, good representation, or just bluffing? We’ll see.

One thing is certain, though, in my opinion. This trial, if and when it happens, is anything but a straightforward legal process. There may be more interests and stakes than simply bringing justice to the four victims, their families, and the community. We’ll still be watching closely, that’s for sure. So, see you in the next one, I guess.

REFERENCES

Taylor, A. C. (2024, April 17). NOTICE OF DEFENDANT’S SUPPLEMENTAL RESPONSE TO STATE’S ALIBI DEMAND. Retrieved from https://s3.us-west-2.amazonaws.com/isc.coi/CR29-22-2805/2024/041724-Notice-Defendants-Supplemental-Response-States-AD.pdf

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