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Bryant’s lawyers want jurors told police botched investigationEds: Moving on news and sports lines

JON SARCHE

DENVER – Kobe Bryant’s defense team said Wednesday it wants the judge to tell the jury investigators did not collect certain evidence that could suggest the NBA star is innocent of rape.In a court filing, Bryant’s attorneys asked the judge to instruct jurors that the evidence, if presented at trial, would be exculpatory.Defense attorney Hal Haddon also criticized prosecutors for an “ongoing pattern and practice of failing to look for – and obstructing the defense’s access to – exculpatory evidence in this case.”District Attorney Mark Hurlbert has said Eagle County sheriff’s detectives conducted a thorough investigation that produced enough evidence to support convicting the NBA star of felony sexual assault.Prosecution spokeswoman Krista Flannigan declined comment Wednesday, saying any response would be made in court.Bryant, 25, has pleaded not guilty and said he had consensual sex with the 19-year-old resort worker in his hotel room last June 30. If convicted, the Los Angeles Lakers star faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation, and a fine of up to $750,000.No trial date has been set, but both sides have suggested it could begin in August or September.The jury instructions have emerged as another battleground between the two sides in the case. Earlier this week, the defense said jurors should be asked to consider whether prosecutors proved the alleged victim didn’t consent to have sex – a proposal prosecutors said was pointless to make separate from the question of whether Bryant is guilty.Haddon wrote that when detectives entered Bryant’s hotel room, they did not execute a search warrant and the only evidence they collected were the clothes Bryant wore at the time of the alleged attack two days earlier.The alleged victim told investigators she had been crying in the room, and that Bryant had forced her to go to the bathroom and clean herself up and wash her face before leaving.Haddon said the detectives failed to preserve as evidence the chair on which the sexual act occurred, carpet under the chair and leading into the bathroom, towels from the bathroom, the contents of the sink drain traps from the bathroom, the contents of trash cans in the suite, and sheets from the bed.During Bryant’s preliminary hearing, Detective Doug Winters said he didn’t think it necessary to collect such evidence because he believed the alleged victim’s story agreed in large part with Bryant’s story.But Haddon said the existence of such evidence could help jurors determine what happened.”The detectives’ actions are wholly at odds with the truth-seeking function of a professional law enforcement investigation,” Haddon wrote.Haddon has said prosecutors chose not to subpoena AT&T Wireless Communications Inc. for possibly exculpatory cell-phone text messages the alleged victim exchanged with a former boyfriend and another person shortly after her encounter with Bryant. He also has said prosecutors are making it difficult for the defense to observe or conduct DNA testing.Also Wednesday, prosecutors told state District Judge Terry Ruckriegle why they failed to comply with his order that a defense expert be allowed to watch DNA testing at a Virginia laboratory.Deputy prosecutor Dana Easter said prosecutors believe that Ruckriegle had only suggested a defense expert be present for the testing, but stopped short of ordering it.She said prosecutors were willing to allow a defense expert to observe the testing, even though they have no legal obligation to do so. She said the judge did not have all the facts before issuing his order – and that he has overstepped his authority.”Although the court can set deadlines for testing for the proper administration of justice, it cannot tell the people how they are going to investigate a case without infringing on the people’s executive function,” she wrote.


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