Tuesday , Jun , 22 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Late August trial date likely in Kobe Bryant case

Eagle, CO (Sports Network) – A two-day pretrial hearing in the Kobe Bryant
sexual assault case wrapped up on Tuesday. No trial date has been set by State
District Judge Terry Ruckriegle, but both sides said they could be ready by
the end of August.

The Los Angeles Lakers guard is accused of sexually assaulting a woman nearly
a year ago at a Colorado resort, a Class 3 felony with penalties ranging from
four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation.

The 25-year-old Bryant, who was in Colorado for surgery on his right knee at
the time of the alleged assault, claimed the two had consensual sex.

Tuesday’s closed-door hearing consisted of testimony by witnesses and
arguments over a defense motion to have the woman’s sexual activity in
the days surrounding her meeting with Bryant admitted as evidence.

Bryant’s attorneys have insisted throughout that the woman had sex with
someone else less than 15 hours after her alleged assault by Bryant and
that injuries found on the her body could have been caused by sexual partners
before her encounter with the NBA star.

Prosecutors stated that the woman’s sex life is irrelevant in determining
whether she was assaulted and have asked the judge to uphold Colorado’s rape-
shield law.

The rape-shield law, created in the mid-1970s, generally prevents defense
attorneys from using information regarding the sexual history of alleged
assault victims.

Defense attorney Hal Haddon argued that the law violates Bryant’s right to
equal protection because under another state law, a defendant’s sexual history
is presumed to be relevant and is admissible at trial.

Ruckriegle, however, stated that Bryant’s sexual history will not be mentioned
in court, thus making Haddon’s argument irrelevant.

Meanwhile, several forensics experts were at the courthouse Tuesday to discuss
injuries found on the woman.

On Monday, both sides in the case clashed over how the potential jurors will
be instructed. One of the major obstacles is the issue of consent.

The defense team wants the jurors told that they can only convict Bryant if
prosecutors prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the alleged victim did not
consent to sex, and that Bryant knew it.

Prosecutors countered by saying that they are only required to prove that
Bryant’s actions were enough to make the woman succumb to sex against her
will, thus making the question of consent irrelevant.

Ruckriegle has yet to rule on the jury instructions. However, he did turn
down a request by Bryant’s attorneys to order the jury that it could
assume certain items not taken from Bryant’s hotel room by sheriff’s deputies
could have proven his innocence.

Haddon stated that investigators should have kept as evidence the chair,
carpet samples, and tissues and towels the woman used in the hotel.

Ruckriegle said state law permits such a jury instruction only if there is
proof investigators intended to destroy evidence they knew could be
exculpatory. He said the defense team can address the crime scene
investigation at the time of the trial.

The next set of pretrial hearings is scheduled for July 19-21.

LAL