Attorney: Suspect in deaths of Idaho students willing to waive extradition hearing

The man accused in the killing of four University of Idaho students plans to waive an extradition hearing so he can be returned to Idaho to face murder charges, his attorney said Saturday.

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Bryan Christopher Kohberger, 28, a Ph.D. student and teaching assistant in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Washington State University, was arrested early Friday morning by the Pennsylvania State Police at his parents’ home in Chestnuthill Township, according to The Associated Press.

A statement released by Jason LaBar, Kohberger’s public defense attorney in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, stated that his client “is eager to be exonerated” and “looks forward to resolving these matters as soon as possible,” KREM-TV reported.

“Mr. Kohberger has been accused of very serious crimes, but the American justice system cloaks him in a veil of innocence,” LaBar’s statement read. “He should be presumed innocent until proven otherwise -- not tried in the court of public opinion. One should not pass judgment about the facts of the case unless and until a fair trial in court at which time all sides may be heard and inferences challenged.”

LaBar said that Kohberger will still have to appear before a judge on Tuesday to sign off on the paperwork, CBS News reported. Depending on what time Idaho authorities arrive, Kohberger could be back in the state in as little as 72 hours after the hearing, according to the news outlet.

Bill Thompson, a prosecutor in Latah County, Idaho, said during a news conference on Friday that investigators believe Kohberger broke into the students’ home near campus in Moscow, Idaho, “with the intent to commit murder.”

The four victims -- Ethan Chapin, 20, of Conway, Washington; Xana Kernodle, 20, of Avondale, Arizona; Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho -- were found dead on Nov. 13, the news organization reported. Their bodies were found in a house Kernodle, Mogen and Goncalves shared with two other roommates, who were unharmed, according to CBS News.

Police focused on Kohberger after tracing his ownership of a white Hyundai Elantra that had been seen in the area of the killings, CNN reported. Law enforcement sources told the cable news network that Kohberger’s DNA was matched to genetic material recovered at the scene of the murders.

He was found in a residential area of Pennsylvania near the Pocono Mountains, and was arrested based on a “fugitive from justice” warrant, KREM reported, citing the Pennsylvania State Police.

Kohberger is currently being held in the Monroe County Correctional Facility, according to the television station.

Neighbors in Chestnuthill Township, Pennsylvania told The Times-Tribune of Scranton that they were stunned to see law enforcement vehicles outside the Kohberger family home.

Eileen Cesaretti, who lives across the street from the family, told the newspaper that she loves Kohberger’s parents and is fond of the suspect.

“I don’t think he’s capable of doing something like this,” Cesaretti told The Times-Tribune. “I pray to God he’s innocent.”

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