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The suspect in the murder of four college students in Idaho chose to “stand silent” Monday when a judge asked him how he intended to plead in the case.

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Bryan Kohberger’s attorney, Anne Taylor, told Judge John C. Judge when he asked for a plea in the case that her client was “standing silent” instead of entering a plea to the charges.

Bryan Kohberger arraigned; not guilty plea entered for Idaho murder suspect

Judge then enter not guilty pleas for Kohberger, who faces four counts of murder and one count of burglary.

Kohberger has been charged in the murders of Ethan Chapin, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle and Madison Mogen. The four University of Idaho students were stabbed to death in an off-campus home in the college town of Moscow, Idaho, on Nov. 13, 2022.

While “standing silent” during a hearing is not common, it is allowed and signals to the judge that a defendant will not be answering when the judge asks how a person intends to plead to the charges.

Earlier in the hearing, Kohberger had answered the judge when he asked after each charge if he understood the charge and the penalty for it.

Standing silent has the same legal effect as entering a plea of not guilty, according to Jessica Levinson, a legal contributor for CBS News. By standing silent, a defendant could have more options during potential plea negotiations, Levinson said.

“He keeps on the table the possibility that he could plead guilty in exchange for not receiving the death penalty,” Levinson explained.

Kohberger was arrested in December after police were able to link him to the case when DNA collected from his parents’ home matched DNA uncovered on a knife sheath found at the scene of the crime, according to Reuters.

Kohberger was indicted by an Idaho grand jury on murder charges last week.

Judge set a trial date of Oct. 2 at 8:30 a.m. The case is expected to take between four and six weeks.