Bodyguard, audio expert testify in Bryant hearing
Kobe Bryant spent the morning in closed hearings, as attorneys argued about whether the evidence and statements he gave sheriff’s investigators should be thrown out.
Wednesday morning’s closed session marks the third day of closed hearings. Prosecutors and defense attorneys are making their way through testimony to determine whether the jury should hear about Bryant’s accuser’s sexual activity around the time of the alleged June 30 rape, and whether the jury should consider physical evidence collected from Bryant when he was interviewed by sheriff’s investigators the next night.
State District Judge Terry Ruckriegle heard testimony from bodyguards Michael Ortiz and Rich Sanders Wednesday morning, as both sides began hammering away at the physical evidence.
Ortiz is one of the owners of O&R, the personal security firm that escorted Bryant to Vail last summer when he had surgery on his right knee at the Steadman Hawkins Clinic.
Ortiz was one of three bodyguards with Bryant. The others were Jose Ravilla, also one of the principle owners of O&R, and off-duty Los Angeles police detective Troy Laster.
Ortiz was in the courtroom for about 30 minutes. Legal experts said he could help provide perspective about whether Eagle County sheriff’s detectives were clear in their assertion that Bryant was not under arrest while he was being interviewed.
Eagle County sheriff’s detectives Doug Winters and Dan Loya interviewed Bryant for about an hour-and-a-half before Bryant was taken to Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs for a rape examination.
Rich Sanders, an audio expert and professor at the University of Colorado at Denver, was in and out of Ruckriegle’s courtroom twice Wednesday morning.
Sanders has been an expert witness helping decipher audio tapes in the Oklahoma City bombing and the Columbine High School shootings. In the JonBenet Ramsey murder case, Sanders worked with Bryant’s defense attorney Harold Haddon, who represented John and Patsy Ramsey, parents of the slain young girl.
The evidence Bryant’s attorneys want thrown out includes Bryant’s tape-recorded statements to investigators, a T-shirt stained with the woman’s blood that he was still wearing the next night, and a rape kit performed on Bryant after the alleged assault.
The defense contends that Bryant was not properly advised of his Miranda rights. Prosecutors counter that Bryant was not under arrest, knew he was free to leave and cooperated voluntarily, and therefore did not need to be advised of his rights.
Bryant’s attorneys say Eagle County sheriff’s investigators improperly collected evidence during the early morning hours of July 2, the night they interviewed Bryant at the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera, where he was recovering from knee surgery earlier that day at Vail’s Steadman Hawkins Clinic.
Among other things, Mackey and Haddon insist Bryant should have been advised of his Miranda rights. Because he was not, they say, the jury should not be allowed to consider the evidence when making its decision about Bryant’s guilt or innocence.
Bryant, 25, is charged with raping a 19 year old Eagle woman on June 30, 2003, while he was a staying at the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera. He has said the sex was consensual.