Does Idaho accept mental illness as defense? Bryan Kohberger's insanity plea may not fly, claims expert

Does Idaho accept mental illness as defense? Bryan Kohberger's insanity plea may not fly, claims expert
Bryan Kohberger appears at a hearing in Latah County District Court on January 5, 2023, in Moscow, Idaho (Ted S Warren /Getty Images)

This article is based on sources and MEAWW cannot verify this information independently

MOSCOW, IDAHO: Bryan Christopher Kohberger, 28, who is charged with the brutal murder of four University of Idaho students, was arrested December 30. The probable cause affidavit, released Jan. 5 revealed several key details linking Kohberger to the case, such as phone records indicating Kohberger was in the area of the murders at least 12 times prior to the murders and that the suspect left a knife sheath with his DNA at the scene. In addition, the man accused of four murders was 'seen' by one of the survivors, Dylan Mortensen. Because Idaho state law prohibits the consideration of a defendant's insanity in a criminal trial, Dr. Casey Jordan, a noted criminologist and attorney, believes that Kohberger's insanity cannot be admitted in the Idaho murder case.


Four University of Idaho students, Ethan Chapin, 20, Xana Kernodle, 20, Madison Mogen, 21, and Kaylee Goncalves, 21, were stabbed to death November 13 in their off-campus rental home on King Road in Moscow, Idaho. Kohberger, a doctoral student in criminal justice and criminology at neighboring Washington State University, was arrested at his parents' home in eastern Pennsylvania, more than 2,500 miles from Moscow, and now faces charges of four counts of murder and burglary. Kohberger waived his right to a speedy preliminary hearing when he appeared in court Thursday, January 12.



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Does Idaho accept mental conditions as defense?

Under Idaho state law, state of mind is not a defense to a charge of criminal conduct. If the court determines that the person convicted of a felony is suffering from a mental disorder requiring treatment, the person shall be placed in an appropriate facility for treatment. If the treatment is completed before the expiration of the sentence imposed, the convicted person shall remain liable for the remainder of the sentence.


Dr Casey Jordan, a criminologist, behavioral analyst and attorney in private practice considers the evidence laid out in the probable court documents is 'overwhelming,' as reported by King 5 News. Jordan added that she expects that the defense would blame it on another person or 'an alter ego'. “I'm expecting a really multi-layered defense that blame someone else, either another person or get ready for it an alter ego,” Jordan said.

However, Jordan points out that such arguments would not work in Idaho as it is one of the few states that doesn’t accept a mental condition as a defense. But she believes that prosecutors may put capital punishment on the table for a possible plea deal. Jordan added, "I wouldn't be surprised if they demand as part of that plea bargain that he articulates, in other words, owns the murders and make him describe in very clear detail exactly what he did on the night of the crime."


Jordan said that Kohberger's lack of emotion as shown in court this week, is consistent with someone who could commit a violent act. Jordan further added that Kohberger 'loves the attention' and would be 'pleading not guilty', “I think he loves the attention. If he starts talking well, then the cameras go away. I think he will be a stonewall, if you will, not talking, not confessing, not giving us any clues pleading not guilty, demanding a trial to keep his name in the news” 

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Disclaimer : This is based on sources and we have been unable to verify this information independently.

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