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What Bryan Kohberger’s courtroom seating says about his lawyer’s confidence: experts

Defense attorney Anne Taylor looks 'scared' of her client, veteran trial lawyer says

A defense lawyer confident in their client’s innocence will want to sit close to the defendant in court, playing up their closeness for the cameras and for the jury to ease the perception of someone accused of a horrific crime, experts tell Fox News Digital.

On the other hand, an attorney who is less confident in their client’s innocence, or even afraid of them, could sit physically further away.

“It is important when you are representing a defendant that is accused of murder that the first appearance in front of the camera shows you, as an attorney, like your defendant and believe in your defendant,” Linda Kenney Baden, a veteran trial attorney whose clients have included Aaron Hernandez and Phil Spector, told Fox News Digital.

IDAHO MURDERS: BRYAN KOHBERGER DEFENSE ‘FIRMLY BELIEVES’ IN HIS INNOCENCE

Roger Rosen (L) and Linda Kenny Baden (C) speak with music producer Phil Spector in court

Music producer Phil Spector gestures as he speaks with his attorneys Roger Rosen and Linda Kenny Baden after the judge in the case declared a mistrial due to a hung jury during his murder trial at Los Angeles Superior Court, Sept. 26, 2007. (Fred Prouser-Pool/Getty Images)

“You can’t look fearful, you can’t be sitting a mile away, you have to be close to your defendant, you have to touch your defendant, if allowed, and give the impression you are not scared; and if you are not scared, that means your client is not guilty,” she added.

During her defense of Hernandez, a 245-pound former NFL star-turned-murder suspect who stood over 6 feet tall, she said she made sure to hug him in front of the courtroom to illustrate that she wasn’t afraid of him.

IDAHO MURDERS SUSPECT BRYAN KOHBERGER WAS UNKNOWN TO VICTIMS, LAWYER SAYS

While another of Kohberger’s attorneys, Elisa Massoth, said in court in April that the team “firmly believes” that he is innocent, critics say they aren’t convinced.

In one recent photo, Kenney Baden said it looked like Kohberger’s defense counsel was sitting in the next state over.

“She looks like she’s scared of him, and that’s not a good look,” she said of Anne Taylor’s seating arrangement.

Kohberger, Taylor and Logsdon face Judge John Judge

Bryan Kohberger, left, listens as defense attorney Jay Logsdon presents oral arguments in favor of overturning Kohberger’s grand jury indictment on Oct. 26, 2023, in Moscow, Idaho. (Kai Eiselein-Pool/Getty Images)

Kohberger is accused of driving across state lines from Washington State University in Pullman to Moscow, Idaho, to massacre four University of Idaho students at 4 a.m. on a November Sunday in 2022.

The stabbing attack killed Madison Mogen, 21, Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and her boyfriend, Ethan Chapin, 20.

“For a woman to sit closer to her male client shows that she’s not fearful of him and she supports him and has confidence in him,” body language expert Susan Constantine told Fox News Digital. Sitting far away shows a more distant relationship.

But getting too close can backfire, too, she said.

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Attorney Jose Baez sits next to client casey Anthony in court

Casey Anthony, right, with her attorney, Jose Baez, are shown during her murder trial at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Florida, on June 2, 2011. (Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

“That’s where Jose Baez got in trouble with Casey Anthony; their relationship appeared too intimate,” she said. “The closer they are, the more intimate they appear. That doesn’t mean physicality … but there was a closeness to them that was sending the wrong signal.”

Sometimes, she said, attorneys force themselves to get close to the defendant to help themselves “buy into their client’s innocence.” Others, like O.J. Simpson and Ted Bundy, have a natural charisma that draws people in.

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Ted Bundy Conferring with His Defense Attorneys

Ted Bundy, center, confers with his defense attorneys on the opening day of his 1979 double-murder trial for the deaths of two Florida State University students. (Getty Images)

“O.J. was a charismatic guy, so he was easily captivating,” she said. “And also the cameras in there, they were probably wanting to show a close relationship.”

Another thing to look out for, Constantine said, is if the distance between Kohberger and his defense team changes throughout the course of the proceedings.

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OJ SIMPSON POINTS TO POOL CAMERAS WITH HIS ATTORNEYS.

Flanked by defense attorneys Yale Galanter, left, and Craig Brand, former NFL star O.J. Simpson points toward the cameras during the second day of jury selection in his road rage trial in Miami on Oct. 10, 2001. (Reuters/Wilfredo Lee/Pool)

“Further away shows less emotional supportiveness by distancing only if it is different from the normal baseline distancing we have seen in the past,” she explained.

Other indicators show his relationship with Taylor is warming up, she said. In early appearances, including one of his first when he showed up with cuts on his face from shaving, he appeared still and barely moved, she said.

 

Bryan Kohberger attends a status hearing at a court in Moscow, Idaho

Bryan Kohberger attends a status hearing at Latah County District Court in Moscow, Idaho, on Jan. 12, 2023. (Kai Eiselein/Pool via Reuters)

As for Bundy, his outgoing attitude had already helped him lure in his victims.

“He just knows how to make contact,” she said. “What won him over is his instant rapport with people and connection and his attractiveness.”

More recent photos of Kohberger show him more animated in court, even smiling during conversations.

 

“He was more of a frozen stature as he was in the courtroom, there was no emotion exuding from his body, his eyes, his face; his structure was very rigid,” she said. “Now, since he’s probably feeling more comfortable and he’s starting to build more rapport with his attorney, he’s making more eye contact … and then you start to see the eyes more open than they were.”

Neama Rahmani, a veteran trial attorney based in Los Angeles, said he thinks Taylor will start sitting closer to her client when jury selection begins.

Defense attorney Barry Levine pats Erik Menendez on the back in court

Defense attorney Barry Levine, left, pats the back of double-murder defendant Erik Menendez as he and his brother are found guilty of first-degree murder with special circumstances on March 20, 1996. (Reuters)

“Jurors want to know that the defense attorneys believe in their client,” he said. “Defense lawyers will sit next to their client and sometimes even touch them as they make arguments and address the court.”

It’s similar to having a defendant whose family members attend the proceedings, he said.

 

Robert Crimo III on June 26, 2024

Robert E. Crimo III is shown with his public defender, Anton Trizna, during a hearing at the Lake County Courthouse on June 26, 2024, in Waukegan, Illinois. (Nam Y. Huh-Pool/Getty Images)

 

“Family member support is good optics in any criminal case,” he said. “This is all show for the jury, to make them think you believe in your client.”

But it could have been Kohberger’s social shortcomings that led to the murders, if the allegations are true, she said.

“He’s had a real hard time with intimate relationships, and that’s what got him into trouble,” she said. “If he hated those people that were popular, hated that he was rejected.”

Kohberger is due back in court Thursday for a hearing on scheduling and motions against the death penalty.

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