Bryant’s attorneys to get text-message records
Kobe Bryant’s defense attorneys can see cell phone text messages to and from his accuser’s ex-boyfriend, the judge in the case ruled Thursday.”The materials contain information that is relevant for discovery,” state District Judge Terry Ruckriegle said in his decision.Bryant’s attorneys, Pamela Mackey and Harold Haddon, along with District Attorney Mark Hurlbert, will get a look at Matt Herr’s text messages, as will Herr’s attorney Keith Tooley. One was sent at 2:41 a.m., July 1, Haddon said in court last month, although it’s not clear who that message was to, or from. The messages being turned over were sent between Herr and at least one other person. Bryant’s alleged victim has said she did not send Herr any message that night, sources have told the Vail Daily.Ruckriegle ordered attorneys for both sides to keep sealed the messages and an accompanying letter from AT&T Wireless Communications Inc.Hurlbert has taken no formal position on the issue. In a hearing last month, Tooley called the defense’s request a “fishing expedition.”Ruckriegle has not yet ruled as to whether the text messages will be admissable for the jury during the trial.Local defense attorney David Lugert, a former state and federal prosecutor, said Ruckriegle is trying to be fair by giving both sides have full access to all the outcry statements.”The assumed privacy between the parties who communicated through text messages is outweighed, or trumped, by the defendant’s right in a serious felony prosecution to know all outcry statements by all witnesses, possibly including the victim in this case, and to use them by the prosecution to buttress statements by other witnesses, or by the defense to challenge statements by witnesses,” said Lugert.AT&T Wireless was subpoenaed for the records in February. The company turned them over to Ruckriegle after he demanded them on May 27. In demanding the records, Ruckriegle cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s order that President Nixon turn over the Watergate tapes.Bryant’s attorneys have also asked Herr for DNA samples. A co-worker of Bryant’s alleged victim, bellman Bob Pietrack, has already provided the DNA samples he was asked for.Tooley argued that the defense request for Herr’s DNA is a fundamental violation of his constitutional rights.Defense attorneys have alleged, among other things, that the injuries Bryant’s alleged victim suffered could have resulted from having sex with three men in three days.Bryant, 25, has pleaded not guilty to felony sexual assault, saying he had consensual sex with a Vail-area resort worker in his hotel room last June 30. If convicted, Bryant faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation, and a fine of up to $750,000. The accuser turns 20 on Friday.Bryant will be back in court in Eagle Monday for another round of pretrial motions hearings.