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County boosts funds for Kobe case

Veronica Whitney

District Attorney Mark Hurlbert now has more money to prosecute Kobe Bryant.

The $105,000 that Hurlbert requested to cope with the cost of prosecuting the NBA star was included Tuesday in a $7.4 million supplement to the Eagle County budget.

“This money will cover us for the rest of the year for a variety of things associated with the case,” Hurlbert said. “It will be mostly for staff needs.”



Bryant is charged with felony sexual assault. A 19-year-old Eagle woman claims Bryant sexually assaulted her in his hotel room at the Cordillera Lodge and Spa, near Edwards. Bryant has said the sex the two had was consensual.

Hurlbert’s office receives about $2 million a year from the four counties in Fifth Judicial District – Eagle, Summit, Clear Creek and Lake counties. The Eagle County office has four deputy district attorneys and Hurlbert said he is in the process of hiring another prosecutor and an additional staff member to help.



Since the charges were filed on July 18, Hurlbert has only hired Krista Flannigan, a public relations specialist, to help with the case – at a cost of $50 an hour.

Bryant, on the other hand, makes about $13 million a year playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, and he recently landed a $45 million, five-year endorsement contract with Nike. He is represented by Denver-based attorneys Pamela Mackey and Hal Hadden, a pair considered one of the top criminal defense teams in the industry.

Hurlbert – after putting numbers together to see how much it would cost to prosecute the case – called Eagle County Administrator Jack Ingstad on Monday and requested $105,000 to finish up the year.



“If the case stays here, we’ll evaluate if we’ll need more money next year,” Hurlbert said. “We haven’t requested money from the other three counties yet. We don’t know if we will do that.”

The counties’ contributions are made based on a formula that takes

Into account the number of cases and population in each county, Ingstad

said. Eagle County chipped in $951,000 for 2003 and Summit County contributed $585,094. Lake and Clear Creek counties’ contributions were smaller.

The state Attorney General’s Office has 210 attorneys in staff and in some cases they can help county district attorneys.

“The glare of the case and the number of motions hearings may drive up

the cost of the case,” said Ken Lane, spokesman for the state’s General Attorney’s Office.

Peter Weir, executive director of the Colorado District Attorney’s Council, said the case could become even more expensive if it becomes a battle of expert witnesses.

Some experts, he said, can cost up to six figures. The DA’s office, however,

can only spend $100 an hour – and up to $2,000 – on expert

witnesses.

Along with the $105,000 set aside for potential needs of the D.A.’s Office, the Eagle County Board of County Commissioners agreed to include in the supplemental budget another $45,000 to cover possible extra expenses of the Sheriff’s Office, the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo and the Berry Creek residential redevelopment project, said Mike Roeper, county finance director.

“Those funds, however are unallocated funds,” Roeper told a dozen reporters who swarmed him after the announcement Tuesday at the County Building in Eagle. “That means that money can’t be spent unless the commissioners approve it.”

Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at vwhitney@vaildaily.com


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