All we’ve heard so far from the University of Idaho murder case is stacking the mountain of evidence higher and higher. From the probable cause affidavit, to the arrest warrant, to various search warrants, everything has been flashing arrows pointing at one man: Bryan Kohberger.
Now, for the first time, the defense has gotten a bit of a break. How bad will this be for the prosecution? Well, it’s not good, we can tell you that much.
Among the many pieces of evidence against Kohberger, the most compelling is probably that knife sheath. It’s the actual holder for the murder weapon, found at the scene — by the bodies of Maddie Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves — and most importantly of all, it has DNA on it. His DNA. It places Kohberger and Kohberger alone at the scene, it’s about the closest thing to an actual smoking gun in a real-life murder case.
But… what if it didn’t exist? What if the knife sheath isn’t allowed to be used in court??
That’s the fear after the revelation that the first lab in which the sheath was tested did NOT find Kohberger’s DNA. Journalist Howard Blum, who is working on a book about the murders, first revealed on The Megyn Kelly Show podcast:
“They sent it first to the lab in Idaho, and the lab in Idaho couldn’t find anything. So they thought this might be a dead end.”
He added during a NewsNation appearance on Wednesday that the Idaho lab sent the knife sheath off to a lab in Texas because they really wanted to get their man:
“They wanted desperately to tie the suspect to this knife sheath.”
Why this lab in Texas that was only being used to solve cold cases? Blum explained they “specialized in proprietary devices that made what is called kinship DNA”:
“You could figure out a relative of the DNA that you already had, and this lab was set up to investigate unsolved murders.”
This is the genealogy testing that was used to solve the Golden State Killer case and many others recently. The lab matched the DNA on the sheath to Kohberger’s father.
But was this good, thorough police work? Or will the defense be able to exploit the fact that the first lab wasn’t able to make the match? Celeb attorney (and former federal prosecutor) Neama Rahmani told Newsweek on Thursday it’s the likely the latter:
“It’s a problem for the prosecution if the reports are accurate and the first lab did not match the DNA to Kohberger. Even though familial DNA matches are new, the state is going to have to explain why the first lab drew a different conclusion.”
Will the jury understand the distinction in the technology? Or will they just hear that the first test was a negative? The defense will explore this as a hole in the case against Kohberger, says Rahmani:
“It’s uncommon for such a bloody crime scene to have only a single source of DNA connected to a defendant. The defense will argue that it was transferred or planted. There may also be a lot of other peoples’ DNA at the scene because it was a ‘party house.’ The defense will argue that law enforcement didn’t rule them out as suspects.”
The “planted” part was what our minds first jumped to. A big part of the successful defense of O.J. Simpson — what seemed like an unwinnable case — came down to convincing the jury the police might have planted evidence in an attempt to frame the NFL star. Could that work here??
Civil rights and defense attorney Mark O’Mara told NewsNation:
“Defense attorneys look wherever they can find to find a potential of reasonable doubt. And when there is a test either that they have to do unique, they have to go out of state, they have to do a second or third time or it’s inconclusive, those are little items, little catchphrases that defense attorneys use to see if there’s reasonable doubt there… Now, again, it’s got to be taken in comparison to all the other evidence but certainly a defense team has to be pretty happy that that test did not come back positive to Kohberger’s DNA on it, for example, so yes, it’s something they’re gonna look at.”
This comes right on the heels of another gift to the defense — the reveal that an officer who worked on the case was the subject of a “confidential internal affairs investigation”!
Prosecutors disclosed the existence of the investigation on Monday, presumably to make sure that there are no surprises and everything is above board in this case. But what’s the investigation about??
We won’t know for a while as most details about the case have been blocked from the public in a sweeping gag order. But you can bet the defense is going to find out what’s going on there, too. Anything to poke little holes in the case.
What do YOU think of the defense’s back-to-back breaks??
[Image via FOX6/YouTube.]