One of the Surviving Housemate of the Idaho College Murders, Bethany Funke, is Being Subpoenaed by the Defense Attorney of Brian Kohberger Claiming She Has ‘Exculpatory’ Evidence as a Witness
The news of Bethany Funke being subpoenaed to testify was received after Funke filed a motion to dismiss a subpoena that was submitted by Brian Kohberger’s defense team which demanded she would appear at a preliminary hearing in Idaho in June of this year.
Kohberger remains in custody on four counts of murder and one of felony burglary. He was arrested in Pennsylvania on December 30. His arrest happened six weeks after the bodies of Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Madison Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Ethan Chapin, 20, were discovered at their off-campus home in Moscow, Idaho.
Both Funke and Dylan Mortensen, the other surviving roommate, were home at the time when the slayings occurred. According to a police report, Mortensen stated that she had woken up “around 4 a.m. and was shocked to find a masked intruder outside her door. The terrified undergrad locked herself in her room, and neither she nor Funke reported the crime to the police for another eight hours” (Land, 2023). Funke awoke to find the bodies of her housemates located on the upper floor of their off-campus home. (Reyes, 2023). Investigators have stated that the two surviving housemates have been cooperative with the investigation, and the two women were ruled out as suspects (Reyes, 2023). Mortensen’s account of what happened on the night of the murders was later included in a search warrant for Kohberger’s property. However, Funke’s recollection from that night has never been released to the public.
Kohberger’s legal team filed a subpoena in Nevada claiming that Funke has ‘exculpatory’ knowledge from the night of the murders that only she can provide the court. Funke’s attorney fired back at the defense team stating that their claim is without support. This subpoena would force Funke to testify as part of Kohberger’s defense (Reyes, 2023). The filing stated that “there is no further information or detail pertaining to the substance of this testimony, its materiality or the alleged exculpatory information of Ms. Funke or why it would be entertained at the preliminary hearing” (Land, 2023). The defense team argues that Funke’s testimony is the “key to the trial and could clear the murder charges levied against their client” (Reyes, 2023).
In March, Kohberger’s defense team submitted an affidavit from a criminal investigator, Richard Bitonti, supporting the team’s efforts to subpoena Funke (Blistein, 2023). Bitonti wrote in that affidavit that “Bethany Funke has information material to the charges against Mr. Kohberger; portions of information Ms. Funke has is exculpatory to the defendant, … Ms. Funke’s information is unique to her experiences and cannot be provided by another witness” (Reyes, 2023).
In the podcast True Crime Today, Tony Brueski and Scott Roder examine the “exculpatory” information that Bryan Kohberger’s defense claims to possess, potentially altering the course of the high-profile trial (Apple Podcasts, 2023). Roder offers an in-depth analysis of this unexpected development and its implications for the case, as the nation awaits the reveal of the alleged game-changing evidence. In their discussion, Brueski and Roder discuss what evidence and claims could be exculpatory evidence. Brueski brings attention to a tabloid claim about Funke seeing a naked man running out of the sliding doors on the night of the murders. Roder explains that Funke’s recollection from that night might be different than that of Mortensen and could be a possible explanation of why Kohberger’s defense team subpoenaed Funke. Roder continues by stating that it is also important for the investigators to determine which of the two girls called 911, as there could be evidence on the recording. If it is determined that Funke does not tell the court any exculpatory evidence, then Roder believes the judge will come down on the defense team for demanding that a surviving victim be forced on the stand to testify in defense of the suspect.
Brueski and Roder discuss how there are many reasons the defense team would call Funke to testify. Roder feels that the defense team would not be calling Funke to testify if they did not truly believe something substantial is to be told. Brueski talks about the claim from a tabloid of the naked man and the dimensions of the house stating that Funke’s bedroom was on the front of the house on the first floor. With her bedroom being in that location, it would have made her unable to see the man leave through the sliding glass door from her bedroom. Roder explains that this is a bold move for the defense team to take, it makes him believe that the team has something. Brueski states that more has been added to the state’s prosecution of Kohberger, all it would take would be a new prosecutor for a grand jury where he could make his plea earlier than June 26th. Roder states that with the defense team calling Funke up to the stand, they could possibly call into question her past. Where the Kohberger defense might be looking into muckraking both the surviving victims and the deceased. The defense team is going to do anything, as there is not much they have to lose.
By: Megan Frate
May 2, 2023
To read more, check out The Evidence Room blog.
Apple Podcasts. (2023, April 28). Unprecedented Turn of Events: What Could Be the “Exculpatory” Evidence That Kohberger’s Defense Claims to Hold? https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/unprecedented-turn-of-events-what-could-be/id1504280230?i=1000611021050
Bashinsky, R. (2023, April 25). Surviving Idaho University roommate fights court order to testify for Bryan Kohberger’s defense. Mail Online. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12008447/Surviving-Idaho-University-roommate-fights-court-order-testify-Bryan-Kohbergers-defense.html
Blistein, J. (2023, April 25). Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone. https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/witness-university-idaho-killings-quash-subpoena-1234723699/
Land, O. (2023, April 27). Surviving Idaho roommate Bethany Funke agrees to talk to Bryan Kohberger’s attorney: docs. New York Post. https://nypost.com/2023/04/27/surviving-idaho-roommate-bethany-funke-agrees-to-talk-to-bryan-kohbergers-attorney-docs/
Ortiz, E. (2023, April 27). Surviving roommate in murders of Idaho students fights subpoena to testify [Video]. NBC News. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/surviving-roommate-idaho-student-slayings-asks-not-appear-suspects-hea-rcna81184
Reyes, R. (2023, April 24). Surviving Idaho roommate Bethany Funke fights having to testify at Bryan Kohberger trial as part of his defense. New York Post. https://nypost.com/2023/04/24/surviving-idaho-roommate-bethany-funke-fights-testimony-at-kohberger-trial/