Death Sentence Possible for WSU Grad Student in Idaho Slayings?
Bryan Kohberger stood in an Idaho courtroom yesterday after waiving extradition from Pennsylvania earlier in the week. Latah County Judge Megan Marshall read the charges, four counts of first-degree murder an burglary. Judge Marshall then let Kohberger know that the maximum penalty he could face is death or life imprisonment.
Idaho, unlike their Pacific Northwest neighbors to the West, does not have a moratorium on the death penalty.
The Gem State, like many others in the U.S., resumed use of the Death penalty after the Gregg vs. Georgia Supreme Court decision in 1976.
How Many Inmates Have Been Put To Death Since 1976?
In 1994, Keith Eugene Wells became the first to die by lethal injection for the 1992 beating deaths of 23 year old John Justad and 20 year old Brandi Rains. It would be just over 17 years before the chamber was used again. Spree killer Paul Ezra Rhodes was executed in late 2011 for the kidnapping and murder of 34 year old Susan Michelbacher and 21 year old Stacy Baldwin, and the shooting death of 20 year old Nolan Haddon (Rhodes received a life sentence for Haddon's murder).
The last execution in Idaho occurred in 2012, less than a year after Rhodes. Richard Albert Leavitt received the lethal cocktail for the stabbing death and mutilation of 31 year old Danette Elg in 1984. There are eight inmates, including one woman, on Death Row in Idaho.
All were convicted of first degree murder, with the exception of Thomas Creech. Creech (the longest serving inmate on death row) was sentenced to death for the beating death of another inmate in Ada County in 1981.
How Does Someone Get the Death Penalty in Idaho?
There is a certain process in order for the death penalty to be considered by a jury in a capital case. First, the prosecutor must submit a notice of intent to seek the death penalty. If that isn't done then lethal injection is off the table. If the notice is filed then the jury unanimously, or a judge if the jury is waived, must find at least one aggravating circumstance in order to impose a death sentence.
Prosecutors haven't said at this time if they will seek the death penalty for Bryan Kohberger or if it will be used as a bargaining chip to solicit a guilty plea in the murders of 21-year-old Madison Mogen, 21-year-old Kaylee Goncalves, 20-year-old Xana Kernodle, and 20-year-old Ethan Chapin on November 13, 2022.
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