Jury summonses go out in Bryant case
Court officials have begun mailing jury summonses for Kobe Bryant’s sexual assault trial.In total, 999 out of 42,000 Eagle County residents will receive the summonses, the most ever issued for a trial in the county, state judicial officials said Thursday.Potential jurors will report to court Aug. 27, said Karen Salaz, spokeswoman for the state judicial department.The courts typically send out 225 to 250 summonses for trials, but widespread news coverage of the case and a high number of vacation homes in the county prompted officials to send out a more than usual.Bryant is accused of raping a woman, then 19, at the Vail-area resort where she worked last summer. He has said the sex was consensual and has pleaded not guilty to felony sexual assault.
Bryant faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation, and a fine of up to $750,000 if convicted.The trial is expected to last three to four weeks.In Iowa man, a 22-year-old man was sentenced to four months in federal prison Friday for leaving a profanity-laced death threat on the answering machine of the woman accusing Kobe Bryant of rape.John Roche had pleaded guilty to making a threatening telephone call across state lines and faced a sentence ranging from probation to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He will also be under supervised release for three years after his release from prison.Prosecutors said Roche threatened to assault the woman with a coat hanger and repeatedly vowed to kill her in the message left last July 27. It was one of a number of death threats her attorney says she has received since accusing the Los Angeles Lakers player of assaulting her.Roche’s mother wept at times during the hearing. The parents of the 20-year-old alleged victim were also in the courtroom, and the mother spoke to the judge.
“The very graphic and cruel nature of this threat give us every reason to believe he would follow it through,” she told the judge.Roche was a student at the University of Iowa at the time but withdrew and moved to his parents’ home in Davenport. A friend has said Roche is a sports fanatic who had been drinking all day at a golf tournament when he made the call.U.S. District Judge Walker Miller said Roche has substance abuse problems and tested positive for cocaine while out on bond awaiting sentencing.”I do have optimism that you will learn from this, but I want to emphasize that a lot of people do ruin their lives with alcohol and drugs,” he said.Defense attorney Nathan Chambers sought probation or home detention, saying prison time was disproportionate punishment for the crime. He said his client was profoundly sorry for making the call in a drunken stupor.He also said the case would not have received the attention it did if not for Bryant’s celebrity.
“We’re here because of the case in the Eagle County Court,” Chambers said. “He committed his offense within the context of the Kobe Bryant case.”The judge noted Roche was a first-time offender and had strong family support, but said the threat went beyond the pale. He said a message had to be sent that alleged victims should expect fair treatment from the justice system.Afterward, Roche’s parents, John and Pat, were reluctant to comment.”We love and pray for our son,” she said. “That’s my comment.”In a separate case, California bodybuilder Patrick Graber was sentenced to three years in jail after pleaded no contest to a theft charge.Authorities said he offered to kill Bryant’s accuser for $3 million, but dropped charges of solicitation to commit murder and solicitation to dissuade a witness. The Swiss native is expected to be deported after his release.
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It’s fitting that Eagle County is proceeding through its reopening phases of COVID-19 in an analogy to ski run difficulties — green to blue to black. Monday marks the transition from the green beginner phase to the blue intermediate phase.