An Idaho grand jury indicted the man suspected of murdering four college students on murder charges, paving the way for an expected arraignment and trial.

A preliminary hearing in the case against Bryan Kohberger, 28, is scheduled for next month following his December arrest on four counts of first-degree murder and robbery for allegedly breaking into a Moscow, Idaho, home with the intent to commit a crime. crime.

However, the prosecutors’ decision to form a grand jury was not anticipated and allows the state to avoid the week-long preliminary hearing that would have required presenting evidence before a judge and allowing defense counsel to cross-examine witnesses. .

Lawyers, police and other officials have refrained from commenting since January after Latah County Magistrate Judge Megan Marshall issued a gag order, which is being challenged by a coalition of news organizations.

A spokesman for the Idaho Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the grand jury’s indictment. Neither prosecutors nor Kohberger’s public defender could immediately be reached for comment.

Kohberger has not yet pleaded guilty, but is expected to do so at his arraignment on Monday. The indictment would remain sealed until then.

The victims: Maddie Mogen, 21; Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20, were stabbed to death in the early hours of November 13 in their off-campus apartment near the University of Idaho, where they were studying. Chapin, Kernodle’s boyfriend, had stayed at the house overnight.

A motive remains unclear in the murders; Kohberger’s family said in January that they were cooperating with law enforcement to «promote his presumption of innocence.»

Investigators said they traced male DNA from a knife sheath left at the crime scene to Kohberger, who was then a doctoral student at Washington State University, less than 10 miles from the University of Idaho. Other evidence included security video of the area where a white Hyundai Elantra that investigators say Kohberger was driving was seen, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Authorities have not said whether Kohberger knew the victims or why he would have attacked them or the home. The murder weapon, believed to be a large fixed-blade knife, has not been recovered, Moscow police said.

Kohberger is being held in the Latah County Jail without bond.

The quadruple homicide shocked the small Moscow community, where investigators grappled with what the city’s police chief would later describe as a «very complex» case.

Last weekend, the University of Idaho awarded posthumous bachelor’s degrees to the families of Goncalves and Mogen, who were senior citizens at the time of their deaths. Kernodle, a junior, and Chapin, a freshman, also received posthumous certificates.

shane bishop contributed.

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