The father of slain University of Idaho student Kaylee Goncalves said he felt “rage” in the courtroom on Monday as he attended the arraignment for the man accused of killing his daughter and three other students.
“You go through all kinds of emotions, but rage is definitely, probably, the primary emotion that you have,” Steve Goncalves, father of 21-year-old Kaylee, told CNN’s Jim Sciutto on “CNN News Central.”
Bryan Kohberger, 28, appeared for his arraignment in a Latah County Court on Monday after he was indicted last week on four counts of first-degree murder and one count of burglary for the November 13 killings of Kaylee, Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20, at a home just outside the university’s main campus in Moscow, Idaho.
The trial was set for October 2 and is expected to last about six weeks. Prosecutors have 60 days from Monday to announce, in writing, whether they plan to seek the death penalty in this case.
Goncalves said he wants prosecutors to seek the death penalty for the suspect in hopes that it will send a “message” to any potential killers in Idaho.
“Unfortunately, a lot of bad things happen across America,” Goncalves said. “But we moved here, and people move here for the safety that we have. We have to make sure that the world knows that you can’t come to Idaho, you can’t hunt our children down and you can’t kill them in their beds and just be given, you know, a room to stay.”
Victims’ families are banding together, father says
During Monday’s hearing, the presiding judge read aloud Kohberger’s rights and each of the murder and burglary charges outlined in the indictment. When asked if he understood the charges, Kohberger replied to each, “Yes.”
The judge then asked whether the suspect was prepared to announce his plea, to which his attorney replied, “Your honor, we are standing silent.” The unconventional legal strategy relies on an Idaho criminal rule which requires a judge to then enter a not guilty plea on the defendant’s behalf, effectively allowing him to avoid verbally committing to being guilty or not guilty, CNN previously reported.
Goncalves said he is in frequent contact with the families of the other victims who also attended the arraignment on Monday, adding, “We’re all learning how to go through this step.”
“We’ll have a full front showing up in that courtroom when the time comes,” Goncalves said about the victims’ families, referring to the upcoming trial.
Goncalves also pushed back against the wide-ranging gag order in the case that has largely kept details from the public. Along with law enforcement and attorneys for the prosecution, the order also legally bars “attorneys for any interested party in the case” including “any attorney representing a witness, victim, or victim’s family” from speaking publicly about the case, CNN reported.
“You know, what’s the point of having a lawyer if a judge can just say your lawyer can’t speak?” said Goncalves, who said he wants the gag order to be lifted so that his family’s attorney can speak on their behalf. The court will consider arguments against the gag order in a hearing on June 9.