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Bryan Kohberger stood silent at his arraignment; but what does it mean to stand silent?

Standing silent does not mean that a suspect is admitting guilt to the crimes they are accused of committing.

MOSCOW, Idaho — Onlookers, family members of the victims, and people around the world waited with bated breath for the Moscow murders suspect to plead guilty or not guilty to the charges against him.

But he didn't do either. Instead, he chose to stand silent. 

Remaining silent does not mean that a suspect is admitting guilt to the crimes they are accused of committing. Rather, it simply means the judge will enter a not guilty plea to the charge or charges the suspect is facing.

Here's what remaining silent means for the suspect and the case:

Background info

Bryan Kohberger, 28, is accused of murdering Ethan Chapin, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle and Madison Mogen in their off-campus home on Nov. 13, 2022. He was arrested at his family's home in Pennsylvania on December. 30, 2022, and extradited back to Latah County shortly after.

Kohberger had his first appearance in Latah County Court on January. 5, 2023. One week later, he appeared again and waived his right to a speedy preliminary hearing. That hearing was then scheduled to begin on June 26, 2023, and last the entire week.

However, news broke Tuesday that Kohberger had been indicted of all charges against him by a grand jury, which eliminated the need for a preliminary hearing.

He appeared in court for his arraignment on Monday with his public defender, Anne Taylor. During the arraignment, Judge John Judge explained the charges to Kohberger and asked him to enter a plea. At that point, Taylor said Kohberger would stand silent.

What does it mean to "stand silent"?

At an arraignment, a suspect is asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty, which are the only pleas recognized in the state of Idaho. However, a suspect can also choose to stand silent or "stand mute."

Remaining silent means the suspect does not take a stance on being guilty or not guilty; they simply refrain from speaking. 

According to Idaho Criminal Rule 11(a)(1), if a suspect refuses to enter a plea or decides to stand silent, the court must enter a not guilty plea on the suspect's behalf.

The right for a suspect to remain silent is protected by the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which protects defendants from self-incrimination.

Why would Kohberger stand silent?

It can't be said for sure why Kohberger made the decision to stand silent at his arraignment. However, there are several reasons why he, or any other defendant, would choose to do so.

The Fifth Amendment in the U.S. Constitution protects a defendant regardless of whether they are guilty or innocent. In fact, a defendant's refusal to testify or decision to stand silent can't be used against them during their trial.

It is important to note that Kohberger's decision to stand silent does not mean he is admitting guilt to the crimes. It simply means that the court is now responsible for entering a not guilty plea on his behalf.

What's next?

Now that a not guilty plea has been entered for all five charges against Kohberger, he will now stand trial for the murders. His trial is scheduled to begin on Oct. 2, 2023, at 8:30 a.m.

A trial date being set also means the prosecution has sixty days to officially declare whether they intend to seek the death penalty in this case.

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