Bombshell question clears court
Blurting out young woman’s name and taking shots at her reputation was no accident, former prosecutor says
Kobe Bryant’s attorney blurted out his alleged victim’s name six times in less than 10 minutes, then asserted during cross examination the alleged victim’s vaginal injuries might have been caused by having sex with three men in three days.
The assertion, in the form of a question to Eagle County Sheriff’s Detective Doug Winters, was a bombshell that brought the prosecution team springing to its feet to object. Eagle County Court Judge Fred Gannett called a halt to the proceedings, demanding that attorneys for both sides meet him privately, then postponed the rest of the preliminary hearing until Wednesday. Gannett will rule whether to close Wednesday’ proceedings to the press and the public, as defense attorneys have asked on three different occasions.
Mackey’s intensive questioning of Winters appeared designed to cast doubt on the alleged victim’s physical injuries and how she got them.
“So her injuries were recent, but you couldn’t say how recent?” Mackey asked Winters.
“No, I couldn’t,” said Winters, who’d had difficulty with Mackey’s line of questions about vaginal injuries. Winters summarized a report from sexual assault nurse examiners that said the alleged victim’s injuries were consistent with penetrating genital trauma, and were not consistent with consensual sex.
“Are they consistent with someone who’d had sex with three men in three days?” Mackey asked.
The stunning question ignited an already tense courtroom. Gannett cleared the courtroom, and after returning from a break of more than an hour, recessed the hearing.
Mackey appeared surprised when she heard herself use the alleged victim’s name. Other attorneys and Gannett had only used her initials.
Denver defense attorney Craig Silverman said Mackey blurting out the alleged victim’s name was an accident, but former Denver district attorney Norm Early disagreed.
“Mistake?” said an incredulous Early. “You don’t say the victim’s name six times in open court, then follow it with a question like that and expect anyone to believe it was a mistake.”
Legal analysts insisted there was no reason for Bryant’s defense team to go through with the preliminary hearing. Early says their reason is now obvious.
“The only reason they had this preliminary hearing was to smear the victim,” said Early. “I’ve never seen anything like this. It was deliberate, it was despicable. That question was just sleazy.”
Early said Mackey put the question out there when she did, hoping the public would hear it. When it brought the proceedings to a screeching halt, it was the last thing people in the courtroom heard, and the soundbite that resonated in print this morning and on TV talkshows last night.
“The defense hopes the public will hear that because out of the public will come the 12 jurors who will decide this case,” said Early. “(Bryant’s alleged victim) is suffering what every woman fears in a rape case. No one thought the defense would stoop this low.”