DA requests money for strangulation expert | VailDaily.com

DA requests money for strangulation expert

by Randy Wyrick

Bruises on Kobe Bryant’s alleged victim were enough to convince the district attorney to budget money for a strangulation expert and other expert witnesses to testify at trial.

District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said Friday that the budget for the investigation in the Bryant case includes funding for a strangulation expert. That money, however, has not yet been spent.

“No experts have been retained at this time,” said Hurlbert.

However, Hurlbert said he could not rule out that one might be retained in the future, as the case unfolds toward Bryant’s trial. When Bryant was charged on July 18, Hurlbert said that among the physical evidence was bruising.

Hurlbert has asked for nearly $200,000 above his proposed 2004 budget of $2.1 million to cover expenses in the case, including $143,000 for additional staff and $45,500 for expert witnesses and other trial preparation costs, district attorney spokeswoman Krista Flannigan said.

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Those witnesses include specialists in rape trauma and a jury consultant, she said.

A legal expert said the list suggests prosecutors have specific evidence of injuries on the neck of Bryant’s accuser.

“”It suggests that they think she was strangled,” Denver defense attorney Craig Silverman told The Associated Press Friday. “”That inference can definitely be drawn.”

Silverman said expert witnesses in criminal cases often are hired to explain the possible cause of an injury.

The budget for a strangulation expert lends further foundation to stories that Bryant’s alleged victim suffered bruising during an incident on June 30. Bryant is charged with felony sexual assault, a Class 3 felony. The charge was formerly called forcible rape. If convicted, he faces a sentence of between 20 years probation and life in prison.

Bryant allegedly raped a 19-year-old Eagle woman June 30 at the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera, where he was a guest and she was a hotel worker. He was in the area for knee surgery.

Hurlbert’s district covers Eagle, Summit, Clear Creek and Lake counties. His proposed 2004 budget includes $1.8 million from those counties. The balance comes from various grants, Flannigan said.

Eagle County commissioners earlier this year approved an additional $105,000 for Hurlbert’s office for expenses in the case that could come up this fiscal year, which ends Dec. 31. Hurlbert so far has spent $30,000 of that amount, said Assistant Eagle County Administrator Becky Gadell.

The prosecution’s additional staffing costs include $75,175 for Deputy District Attorney Ingrid Bakke, who is on loan from Boulder County; $63,425 for an investigator; $34,050 for a legal assistant; and $76,000 to be split between Flannigan and a victim-services consultant.

Money for expert witnesses included $20,000 for a jury consultant, $2,500 for a strangulation expert and $3,000 for a rape-trauma expert, Flannigan said.

The story about funding for a strangulation expert and other experts is the latest in a series of stories breaking this week from the case.

On Thursday, Eagle County Court Judge Fred Gannett ruled against Bryant on three different requests his attorneys had made.

First, Gannett rejected outright a defense request that Bryant’s alleged victim be required to testify at next Thursday’s preliminary hearing.

Gannett also rejected a request by Bryant’s attorneys that the alleged victim’s medical records be made available. She overdosed twice in a four month period period between late February and late May.

Finally, Gannett rejected a defense request to close Bryant’s preliminary hearing to the public and the press. He did, however, retain the option to close some or all of the preliminary hearing, depending on the evidence that will be presented and whether it would damage Bryant’s right to a fair trial.

Gannett has scheduled two status conferences with attorneys from both sides, one on Tuesday and another just before Thursday’s preliminary hearing.

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