Xana Kernodle‘s mother has signed a petition to preserve the Idaho students’ house standing until the end of the trial.
As the University of Idaho plans to demolish the rental home where four students were killed last year, the mother of one of the victims is trying to keep it standing until the suspect is tried.
According to experts, the university’s decision to demolish the building puts the school’s desire to “move on” over the possible influence a firsthand look at the murder scene may have on jurors in the case against suspect Bryan Kohberger.
Cara Northington, whose 20-year-old daughter Xana Kernodle was stabbed to death in the early morning hours of November 13, 2022, published a Change.org petition on Sunday.
“My daughter was murdered in that house, and there is no way they should be destroying any evidence,” she commented.
The demolition will commence on December 28, over a year after Kohberger’s arrest.
According to the petition organizer, demolishing the property before jurors can go through it “could potentially impede a fair path to justice.”
“All evidence must remain intact until after his trial concludes,” he stated in an email.
Kohberger was apprehended by police on December 30, weeks after the killings, when he made a cross-country road trip with his father returning to his family’s home in Pennsylvania.
He was pursuing a Ph.D. in criminology at Washington State University at the time of the murders, which was roughly a 10-mile drive from the King Road residence.
Kohberger is said to have entered the three-story residence at 4 a.m.
On the higher level, he is suspected of stabbing Kaylee Goncalves and Maddie Mogen, 21-year-old best friends discovered in the latter’s bedroom, as well as a Ka-Bar knife sheath with Kohberger’s DNA on the snap.
On the second level, he is suspected of murdering Kernodle and her 20-year-old partner, Ethan Chapin.
A surviving housemate heard the battle from her second-floor bedroom and told police she froze in fear when she saw a masked man with “bushy” brows leave via the back sliding door. Another survivor was on the building’s ground floor.
The landlord gave the property to the University of Idaho earlier this year, and the institution announced plans to demolish it and erect a memorial garden, which Chapin’s family says is being built by UI architectural students.
“I don’t see why the house needs to be demolished before the trial,” Joseph Giacalone, a retired NYPD sergeant and adjunct lecturer at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said.
“I understand the school wants to ‘move on,’ but walking the jury through the crime scene when you have it is important to give them a perspective that photos just can’t do.”
The FBI and defense investigators have gone to the house several times to photograph and map the layout, but experts believe photographs and videos may not have the same impact on jurors.
“Being able to visit the crime scene in certain cases is extremely important,” said Edwina Elcox, a defense attorney in Boise whose clients have included Idaho’s “cult mom” killer Lori Vallow.
“While video and photos can be useful, they may not accurately depict the scene as an in-person visit can.” The home should be kept until the trial is over or when Kohberger pleads guilty.”
Kohberger’s trial was originally planned for October, but he forfeited his right to a speedy trial and has instead concentrated on fighting the indictment and DNA evidence.
In a Facebook post, Goncalves’ family bemoaned the decision to demolish the structure, saying December 28 would be “an unfortunate day.”
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