If found guilty, Bryan Kohberger, the man accused in the quadruple homicide of four University of Idaho students last year, may find himself in front of a firing squad.
State Rep. Bruce Skaug (R) has proposed a bill that would reinstate the use of firing squads in the state, which was previously legal between 1982 and 2009.
The 28-year-old Kohberger is accused of killing Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Ethan Chapin, and Xana Kernodle in November 2022. As The Dallas Express reported, he was brought to the attention of local detectives after a sample provided by a family member on a genealogy testing website was allegedly linked to DNA evidence found at the scene.
The maximum penalty under current Idaho law for first-degree murder is death by lethal injection.
Although the decision to pursue the death penalty has not yet been made, if it is sought, Skaug’s proposed bill would require the Idaho Department of Correction to determine lethal injection availability within five days of a death warrant being issued. If lethal injection is not possible — for instance, if the required chemicals are not readily available — the bill would allow for the use of a firing squad.
Currently, only Mississippi, Utah, Oklahoma, and South Carolina allow firing squads in executions, according to The Washington Examiner. However, per AP News, South Carolina’s law is on hold due to a lawsuit challenging the legality of using the electric chair or firing squad as execution methods.
As The Dallas Express has reported, public support for the death penalty is apparently falling, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. The Center dubbed 2022 the “year of the botched execution” and has highlighted several executions in recent years that it says went wrong due to executioner incompetence or protocol failures.
Nonetheless, the death penalty continues to have advocates.
Skaug has argued that firing squads offer a more humane option for executions, as reported by The Idaho Capital Sun.
The representative cited recent instances where lethal injection has resulted in agonizing pain for inmates. He has also pointed out that other states, such as Utah, have turned to firing squads due to the difficulty in obtaining the necessary chemicals for lethal injections.
The bill will be subject to a public hearing in the Idaho House Judiciary, Rules, and Administration Committee, which Skaug chairs.
Shannon Gray, a spokesperson for the victims’ families, has said that the decision on whether or not to pursue the death penalty will be made collectively, per The Washington Examiner.
Kohberger was arrested on December 30, 2022, after a months-long investigation. A hearing has been scheduled for June 26, 2023, seven months after the murders.
The motive for the killings remains unclear, as the Daily Mail reported recently. The case had received widespread attention, with prosecutors alleging that Kohberger stalked his victims for weeks before the murders and kept multiple photos of one of the female students on his phone.
Friends have also described how Kohberger reportedly underwent a dramatic physical and emotional transformation in his senior year of high school.
As the case unfolds, the six-bedroom and three-bathroom home where the four students were killed is set to be demolished this semester.
University of Idaho President Scott Green has described the demolition as a “healing step” for the community, per the Daily Mail. Plans for a memorial garden and future development of the site involving students have also been announced.
“The representative cited recent instances where lethal injection has resulted in agonizing pain for inmates.”
I don’t see the problem.