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Attorney for Kaylee Goncalves' family appeals gag order in Moscow murder case

Because the Goncalves family is not involved in the murder case specifically, their attorney says he should be allowed to speak on behalf of the family.

MOSCOW, Idaho — The family of one of the University of Idaho students killed last November is fighting the scope of a gag order issued in relation to the murder case.

According to new court documents, the attorney representing the family of Kaylee Goncalves claims he should be allowed to speak to the public about the case on behalf of the family under the First Amendment. Essentially, because the Goncalves family and their attorney are not involved parties in the murder case specifically, their attorney is arguing they should be allowed to speak publicly about the case.

Last November, four University of Idaho students, Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Ethan Chapin and Xana Kernodle, were stabbed to death in their Moscow, Idaho, home. Over a month later, police arrested Washington State University Ph.D. student Bryan Kohberger in Pennsylvania in connection with their deaths

Latah County Magistrate Judge Megan Marshall issued an order on Jan. 4 prohibiting investigators, law enforcement, attorneys and agents of the prosecuting attorney or defense attorney from speaking to the media or public about the Moscow murders. 

Marshall then amended the order to include the attorneys representing the victims' families on Jan. 18. This means the attorneys representing the families of the four victims cannot discuss any aspect of the court proceedings with the public or the media.

On Jan. 12, the Goncalves family attorney Shannon Gray met with Marshall via Zoom to discuss the gag order. Gray said he told Marshall he did not believe the Goncalves family or himself were parties in the murder case and therefore were not subject to the gag order.

According to documents, Marshall said she "mistakenly believed" they were parties and were, therefore, subject to the order. 

Gray said he emailed the Latah County Prosecutors Office for clarification after the original gag order was filed. He said the office never offered clarification nor gave him Marshall's email address.

Gray stated the current gag order only applies to the People- attorneys, investigators and agents- and the Defendant, 28-year-old Bryan Kohberger, as they are the only "parties" in the case. He added the family members of the victims are allowed to speak to the public and media under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

"Simply put, their rights to freedom of speech cannot be restricted through a judicial prior restraint," Gray wrote.

As the Goncalves family attorney, Gray said he is allowed to relay to the media "any of the opinions, views, or statements of those family members regarding any part of the case" under the First Amendment. He said not being able to represent the family's interests to the media would place an "undue burden" on them.

Gray said the order is "facially overbroad and vague" and "unconstitutionally overbroad." Therefore, Gray is requesting the court amend and/or clarify the existing gag order to make clear who the "parties" in the case are. 

Gray also requested a hearing on the matter.

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