Prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty against a man accused of killing four university students in Moscow, Idaho.
Bryan Kohberger, 28, faces four counts of first degree murder in the stabbing deaths of the students in an off-campus house last November.
He was arrested following a six-week manhunt.
A judge entered a not guilty plea on his behalf last May after he chose to “stand silent” in court.
In new court filing on Monday, prosecutors wrote that “considering all evidence currently known to the State, the State is compelled to file this notice of intent to seek the death penalty”.
The top prosecutor, Bill Thompson, wrote in the court filing that this case met the standard for the death penalty as Mr Kohberger’s acts were “especially heinous, atrocious or cruel” and “exhibited utter disregard for human life”.
Kaylee Goncalves and Madison Mogen, aged 21, and Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin, both 20, were killed in an off-campus apartment on 13 November.
The gruesome murder of the four college students days before Thanksgiving in 2022 shocked the nation.
Goncalves’ family said they are “grateful” that prosecutors are pursuing the death penalty in the case.
“We continue to pray for all the victims families and appreciate all the support we have received,” the family said in a statement on Monday.
Investigators have said the killer left DNA on a “leather knife sheath” found at the crime scene.
In January, unsealed court documents revealed police collected a knife, Glock pistol, black gloves, a black hat and a black face mask during a search of Mr Kohberger’s home.
Documents also show police seized and later dismantled a white 2015 Hyundai Elantra that Mr Kohberger had occasionally driven.
Mr Kohberger’s attorney criticised the prosecution’s reliance on investigative genetic genealogy in its own recent court filings, calling it a “bizarrely complex DNA tree experiment”.
Investigative genetic genealogy – using DNA from crime scenes and seeking to identify suspects through other genetic DNA profiles or matches – has been used with growing frequency in recent years to solve crime cases.
Prosecutors have said the FBI went to public DNA sites with results from the knife sheath, which allowed them to hone in their investigation on Mr Kohberger.
At the time of his arrest, Mr Kohberger was studying to earn a PhD in criminology from Washington State University, eight miles from Moscow over the Idaho/Washington border.
His trial is set for 2 October.
Source : BBC