Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about Bryan Kohberger’s appearance in court on Tuesday, June 27th. If you’re particularly interested in the crime and trial, you may have tried to glean information about what happened in the courtroom yesterday. Only to find that the media has said nearly nothing of any substance. If you’re looking for the facts, trying to discern what actually happened in court, you’re in luck: I watched the hearing so you don’t have to.
Judge Clarifies the Gag Order
First things first: the judge has clarified the gag order. If you’re not familiar, a gag order restricts discussion of the case outside of the courtroom. This is typically done to prevent the trial from becoming a media circus. The judge stated, “We don’t want to have a trial in the media or in the public; we want it to be in the courtroom.” The judge has also stated that those with cameras have been “pushing the envelope” by focusing too much on the area where counsel is seated. He went on to say that the cameras would not be allowed in the courtroom if they focused too much on the defendant, Bryan Kohberger. This makes sense as the state has been taking reasonable precautions to ensure that this case isn’t tried by tabloids.
Motion to Compel Discovery
Kohberger’s attorney, Ann Taylor, started with a motion to compel discovery. In short, this just means that she’s asking the judge to formally order the prosecution to turn over certain evidence. Taylor discussed the first and second motions on June 27th, and said the third would be discussed at a later date. The third motion Ann is referring to likely has something to do with the grand jury records. Let’s break down the first and second motions as they were discussed in court yesterday.
First Motion to Compel Discovery
Ann Taylor is requesting training records from three specific police officers that were involved in the investigation of the murders. Taylor claims that over her career, she has obtained such documents and her request is not unusual. She goes on to argue that these officers have conducted “critical interviews with critical witnesses in the case, made decisions about the interviews, made decisions about the evidence, and conducted other kinds of investigations.” Ann Taylor claims she is requesting such documents to “understand their processes.”
Second Motion to Compel Discovery
The defense also sought information from the FBI pertaining to this case. First, Taylor requested the FBI’s report on the cell phone data that was in the probable cause affidavit. Second, Taylor requested a report from the FBI examiner who told the state to look for a White Hyundai Elantra. She has asked the court to order a deadline for the prosecution to turn the documents over. Taylor claims these are critical pieces of information necessary to prepare Kohberger’s defense.
The Prosecution Responds
In response to Taylor’s request, the state said that Taylor has everything they have, and that they will hand over reports regarding the Hyundai Elantra and the cell phone data as soon as they have the reports. However, the prosecution does not agree that the defense needs police training records. The state argued that the officers the defense is requesting training records for aren’t material to the case and wouldn’t even be called to testify at trial. The prosecution is also concerned that, despite Taylor’s claims, this is indeed a fishing expedition. The prosecution also raised concerns that the defense would request other training records as well. The judge decided that the prosecution has until July 14th to turn over the training records.
The Disagreement Goes Back to the Training Records
Taylor admits that it’s likely that she’ll want training records from other officers. However, she insists that the training records she’s requested were crucial to building Kohberger’s defense. Taylor went on to discuss the involvement each officer had in the investigation and collection of evidence. She went on to argue that, if any of those officers are called to testify, they’re going to say, “based on my training and experience.”
An Explanation for Everything
The gag order isn’t surprising at all, especially given how much media attention the case received. Again, they’re trying to prevent the case from turning into a media circus. This can also help prevent the jury from becoming tainted. Since they’re seeking the death penalty, it does make sense that they’re trying to get as much evidence as possible. It makes sense that they’d want the FBI’s reports on vehicle identification and cell phone data. A lot of people think that cell phone data is irrefutable proof that a person was in a place at a certain time. But this is not necessarily true. Cell phone data can be difficult to interpret, and the location that the cell phone is at can be difficult to pinpoint. It makes sense that the defense would want this data.