Could Cell Tower Data Exonerate Brian Kohberger in Sensational Idaho Murder Case?

Quality Stock Arts /
Quality Stock Arts /

Last Wednesday was the deadline for Brian Kohberger’s defense team to submit evidence related to his alibi on the night when four University of Idaho students were stabbed to death in Moscow, ID, in November of 2022. According to the latest filing from the defense attorneys, they plan to call on an expert on cell phone tower data to prove that Kohberger, who has been charged with the four murders, was never at the house. The defense says it has additional exculpatory evidence that is still forthcoming. Is it possible that Kohberger is not the killer?

The case captivated the nation for close to a month in 2022 when the murders took place. There was a high body count, the slayings took place in a relatively small town (population 25,000), and the suspect that police finally arrested was weird. We’re not suggesting that makes Brian Kohberger guilty. Lots of weird people are not murderers. But the fact that he was weird was something that the media seized upon.

The details of the case were also strange. The killer snuck into a home in south Moscow and stabbed Madison Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle, and Ethan Chapin to death. A fifth person who lived in the home, Dylan Mortensen, told police that she came face-to-face with the killer as he was exiting the home. The killer was wearing a ski mask and for some reason, did not kill Mortensen. He exited through the sliding glass door at the back of the house even though he had broken in through the front door. Mortensen waited seven hours to call 911.

There was so much blood in the home from the four victims that it was leaking outside the home. How did Mortensen not notice that for seven hours? Why did the killer leave her alive? Why did the killer exit through a different door, when police say his car was parked out front?

A knife sheath was found underneath the body of one of the victims and it had a piece of “touch DNA” on a clasp. The FBI tried to find a DNA match using 23AndMe and other DNA matching services but came up empty. After police searched the home of Brian Kohberger, they found a statistical match to Kohberger’s father.

Despite what the experts on Twitter/X will tell you, this is not the kind of “slam dunk” DNA like you see on courtroom TV shows. It’s suggestive, but on its own, the DNA evidence is circumstantial at best. It’s also extremely odd that no DNA from any of the victims was recovered in Kohberger’s car.

Police say they have surveillance video of a car that matches Kohberger’s arriving and leaving the home. “Matches” does not mean it was definitely the same car, however. The photos from the surveillance video are grainy, there’s no license plate visible, and it was the middle of the night. If Kohberger really did kill the four victims, why wasn’t there at least some trace DNA from them present in the car? The house was covered in gore from the four victims bleeding profusely, and all of the police said it was the worst crime scene they’d ever seen. So, why was there no DNA in Kohberger’s car?

Kohberger’s cellphone data is circumstantial on its own as well. However, if his attorneys can prove that Kohberger was driving around the night of the murders, as they claim he was, the phone’s GPS data could back that up. That would be a difficult hurdle for prosecutors to overcome at trial.

Speaking of the trial, there have been so many delays thus far that it’s not expected to begin until the spring of 2025. Kohberger faces four counts of homicide, and the state of Idaho is pursuing the death penalty against him.