Bryant to be arraigned this week
The clock for Kobe Bryant’s rape trial starts ticking this week when Bryant enters his not guilty plea – possibly Tuesday.
State District Court Judge Terry Ruckriegle said Bryant would be arraigned during this week’s three-day series of pretrial motions hearings, beginning today. Bryant will probably be arraigned Tuesday, and jury selection could begin as early as the second or third week of August, sources told the Daily.
Local legal experts said a Tuesday arraignment makes the most sense, giving the court time to wrap up testimony being taken in private, before opening the doors to the public.
“From my perspective, they’ll wrap up in camera testimony on Monday and begin with the public proceedings on Tuesday and Wednesday,” said local defense attorney and former state and federal prosecutor David Lugert.
Lugert said it’s not uncommon in high profile cases for the parties to have discussed the trial date with the judge before the arraignment, so they could make preparations, such as booking reservations at area hotels.
“I would expect that since the judge intends to honor the victim’s right to proceed to trial quickly, and the attorneys for both sides have said they could be ready by August, I predict an early trial date and a relatively quick trial,” said Lugert.
Under Colorado’s speedy trial law, as soon as Bryant is arraigned – advised of the specific charges against him and enters his plea – the court has six months to seat a jury and begin opening statements. The six-month deadline can only be extended if Bryant and his attorneys, Pamela Mackey and Harold Haddon, waive their right to a speedy trial, although that’s not likely. Last month, when Ruckriegle asked attorneys for both sides when they could be ready for trial, both sides said August.
Bryant made his first court appearance August 6, 2003, and legal experts said a year isn’t really all that long for a rape case to come to trial.
“This case really isn’t unusual in terms of the time it takes to bring a sexual assault case to trial,” said Denver defense attorney Lisa Wayne. “It is unusual in terms of who the defendant is. I’ve had sexual assault cases take two to three years to come to trial.”
Bryant’s case has been working its way through the justice system since June 30, 2003, the night he allegedly raped a 19 year old Eagle County woman in Room 35 at the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera. Bryant, who has said he and woman had consensual sex, would face four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation if he is convicted of felony sexual assault.
This week’s hearings
Outside Bryant’s arraignment, much of this week’s proceedings will go on behind closed doors, as Ruckriegle continues to hear testimony about the two major remaining issues on which he still must rule: First, whether much of the physical evidence against Bryant should be thrown out. Second is rape shield, dealing with whether what, if any of the alleged victim’s sexual activity around the time of the June 30, 2003 incident should be heard by the jury.
Ruckriegle already ruled that Bryant’s defense attorneys cannot have direct access to the alleged victim’s medical records from her doctor and the hospitals where she was treated after two drug overdoses.
Bryant’s attorneys want evidence 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.
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.
The defense contends that Bryant was not properly advised of his Miranda rights. Prosecutors counter that Bryant was not under arrest, was free to leave and cooperated voluntarily, and therefore did not need to be advised of his rights.
Among those expected to testify during the evidence hearings are Eagle County sheriff’s detectives Doug Winters and Dan Loya, who interviewed Bryant for about an hour and a half before Bryant was taken to Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs for his rape examination.
Defense audio expert Rich Sanders could also return to the courtroom. Sanders, a professor at the University of Colorado at Denver, has been an expert witness helping decipher audio tapes in the Oklahoma City bombing case, the Columbine High School shootings, and the Jonbenet Ramsey case when he worked with Bryant’s defense attorney Harold Haddon, who represented John and Patsy Ramsey in the case of their daughter’s murder.
AT A GLANCE
To be heard this week
– Bryant will be arraigned of the charge against him, one count of felony sexual assault. He will enter his not guilty plea. His trial must begin in six months.
– Rape shield: State District Judge Terry Ruckriegle will continue to hear testimony in private, which will help him determine what, if any, of the alleged victim’s sexual activity should be heard by the jury.
– Evidence in or out? Bryant’s attorneys say they want much of the physical evidence against Bryant should be thrown out. That evidence includes Bryant’s tape-recorded statement, and the clothing he was wearing. They say it was improperly collected because Bryant had not been advised of his rights. Prosecutors counter that Bryant was not under arrest, was free to leave and cooperated voluntarily, and therefore did not need to be advised of his rights.