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Plans for memorial garden grow before trial of murder suspect

 Some stuffed animals, candles and a picture frame laying on the ground.
Lauren Paterson
/
NWPB
Gifts in honor of victims Madison Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin continue to appear in front of the King Road house.

It’s a sunny day at the Moscow Farmer’s Market, and Main Street is bustling with visitors and vendors from around the Northwest.

Robert Loftus has lived in Moscow for most of his life. He has three kids and never worried about them going around town on their own when they were young.

People walking down a street that has a purple banner strung above it saying Moscow Farmers Market. In front, there is a wooden sign that says local pork and bacon on it.
Lauren Paterson
/
NWPB
The Moscow Farmer’s Market attracts 10,000 visitors from across the region every Saturday during the season, said Moscow Mayor Art Bettge.

“They would ride their bike over to the mall across town. They would ride their bike to the city park or East City Marketplace and go see a movie,” said Loftus.

Crime is rare in Moscow, especially a quadruple stabbing. Loftus said he’s been disappointed by the media portrayal that Moscow is a scary place to live.

“Moscow’s still got all the great things that let me raise my kids here safely. The Moscow murders haven’t changed my mind on that at all,” said Loftus.

The suspect in the killings of four University of Idaho students Bryan Kohberger’s arraignment hearing was May 22. He chose to “stand silent” rather than entering a plea.

Richard Seamon is a professor at University of Idaho’s College of Law.

“This is a very common rule that if a defendant chooses not to enter plea, the judge gets to enter it, and it will be a plea of not guilty,” said Seamon.

At his arraignment, Kohberger declined to waive his right to a speedy trial. Seamon says a motion to change venue is still possible but will likely happen soon if it’s to happen at all.

“The next step for the prosecution most likely, is going to be to give notice about whether they are seeking the death penalty or not,” Seamon said.

A stuffed teddy bear and four white candles are lined up in front of a house, where the windows are boarded up. There is a blue tractor-trailer with an air conditioner unit on it and a black truck.
Lauren Paterson
/
NWPB
The university is working with a remediation company to get the last of the victims’ belongings returned to the families before the King Road house (pictured here) can be demolished. Harmful chemicals are present in the house due to the gathering of forensic evidence, said University of Idaho Dean of Students Blaine Eckles.

As the community awaits the trial in the fall, Moscow Mayor Art Bettge said people are trying to find ways to heal and move forward.

“This hit really, really hard and shook everybody up,” said Bettge.

Since the tragedy, the city has installed more lighting on the roads between the university and downtown.

While the city is doing what it can, local students have banded together to create fundraisers for a memorial garden.

Daniel Ramirez is a recent graduate of the University of Idaho.

A woman and a man sit left to right at a white table with a newspaper in front of them.
Lauren Paterson
/
NWPB
Recent graduates Haadiya Tariq and Daniel Ramirez review the most recent issue of the Argonaut student paper. Both graduated with degrees in journalism earlier this month.

“Students are trying to find a way to heal the community because they lost four of their own. Just seeing how students can find ways to heal and help other students heal,” Ramirez said.

The “Vandal Strong” bracelet fundraiser netted more than $20,000 toward the Vandal Healing Garden and Memorial. More money was raised when music students did a benefit concert in the spring.

Bracelets with the names of the four University of Idaho students who were killed on Nov. 13, 2022, are displayed on a table at a vigil for the victims, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, in Moscow, Idaho. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Ted S. Warren
/
AP
Bracelets with the names of the four University of Idaho students who were killed on Nov. 13, 2022, are displayed on a table at a vigil for the victims, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, in Moscow, Idaho. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

“We’ve raised over $200,000 for this Vandal Healing Garden and Memorial, and that’s from people from across the country, across the globe, saying, ‘we care, we want to support, how can we help?’”

That’s Blaine Eckles, the Dean of Students for U of I. He said students who knew the victims will also be working on the project to design the memorial garden.

Design ideas on how to honor Madison Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle, and Ethan Chapin can be submitted on the university’s website.

“We’ve got this call for inspiration out now where anyone, anyone can submit a design concept or idea. We’re going to print all those off and give them to the students in the class to help inspire them to create design features for what the healing garden can look like,” said Eckles.

As a community member, Loftus said it’s unfortunate to see the focus is now on suspect Bryan Kohberger and the circus he’s created.

“We’ll still be Moscow after this has all blown over,” said Loftus. “We’ll still be a nice friendly town.”

This story was originally published by Lauren Paterson of NWPB.

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