Bryan Kohberger - Idaho Murders
Bryan Christopher Kohberger poses for a jail booking photograph at the Monroe County Correctional Facility Reuters / MONROE COUNTY CORRECTIONAL


  • Bryan Kohberger has added Payette-based lawyer Elisa Massoth to his defense team
  • Massoth claims she is qualified to defend clients charged with the death penalty
  • Massoth served as a former president of the Idaho Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

Bryan Kohberger, the primary suspect in the gruesome murders of four Idaho university students, has added another lawyer to his defense team.

Citing a recent court filing, KXLY reported that Kohberger added Elisa Massoth, an attorney from Payette, Idaho, as co-counsel of the case.

According to Massoth's website, she is qualified to defend clients charged with the death penalty and is "known for being a powerful advocate for clients charged with serious federal crimes, state felonies and misdemeanors."

Massoth serves as Idaho's Criminal Justice Panel Representative. She is also a former president of the Idaho Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

The new lawyer would join Anne Taylor, the chief of the Kootenai County Public Defender's Office, as part of Kohberger's defense team.

Like Massoth, Taylor is also qualified to handle cases involving the death penalty and is the only public defender in North Idaho qualified for capital punishment cases.

Kohberger is facing four counts of first-degree murder, considered a heinous crime in Idaho and punishable by death.

While prosecutors in the case are still mulling whether to pursue the death penalty against the murder suspect, a legal expert believes the victims' attorneys may soon seek capital punishment against Kohberger.

"If you believe in the death penalty, this is a death penalty case," Neama Rahmani, a trial lawyer and former federal prosecutor, said.

"You have multiple victims, you have evidence of premeditation, you have a victim's family who wants the death penalty, so there's a lot of aggregating factors here," Rahmani added.

Steve and Kristi Goncalves, the parents of Kohberger's alleged murder victim, Kaylee, have also expressed their support for pursuing the death penalty against the suspect.

If the prosecutors pursued capital punishment against Kohberger, the murder suspect might face a firing squad if convicted by the court.

Last March, Idaho Republican Gov. Brad Little signed legislation allowing state prison officials to carry out firing squad as a method of execution if no lethal injection drugs are available.

Little said he wanted Idaho to "follow the law and ensure that lawful criminal sentences are carried out," NPR reported.

Kohberger, a 28-year-old criminal justice graduate student at Washington State University, was accused of killing four University of Idaho students in an off-campus apartment last November 2022.

In late December, Kohberger was arrested in his home state of Pennsylvania following weeks of surveillance by state and federal authorities. He was extradited to Idaho in January to face the four murder charges and one count of burglary.

Kohberger is scheduled to return to court for the preliminary hearing next month.

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