New details released in Bryant case
The judge reluctantly released more transcripts Monday night from a secret June hearing in the Kobe Bryant case.”It is with great reluctance that this court releases these transcripts,” wrote District Judge Terry Ruckriegle.Ruckriegle’s order was posted at 7:15 p.m.The transcripts include graphic testimony by defense expert witness Dr. Elizabeth Johnson of Technology Associates. No opportunity was available during that hearing for the prosecution expert, Dr. Henry Lee, to rebut Johnson’s testimony. Lee was present in the courtroom while Johnson was testifying.Ruckriegle said the details violate the spirit of Colorado’s rape shield law, designed to secure the privacy of alleged victims in sexual assault cases.”The effect of this release is to present narrowly limited, one-sided evidence and argument to the public prior to the selection of a jury and without reference to the totality of the evidence,” Ruckriegle wrote in issuing the transcripts. Ruckriegle’s court clerk, Michelle Goodbee, mistakenly e-mailed the original transcripts to seven media outlets. Ruckriegle immediately ordered them not to publish any of it and threatened anyone who did with contempt. Media attorneys appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, saying it violated the First Amendment. Justice Stephen Breyer sided with Ruckriegle, but also said the information in the transcripts would inevitably be released, and ordered a sanitized transcript created.”We’re talking about a defense expert,” said District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Krista Flannigan. “The prosecution has not been heard from in this matter, and won’t be until trial.”Under pressure from both the Colorado Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court, Ruckriegle complied.Ruckriegle said the decision to release an edited version of the transcripts reflects a collision of the alleged victim’s privacy rights, the interests of the participants in conducting a fair trial, and the media’s First Amendment rights.”After careful consideration of the competing interests … this court has concluded that it is compelled to release these transcripts notwithstanding the concern that the release will compromise the rights of some of the participants,” wrote Ruckriegle.Late last month Ruckriegle said he will allow Bryant’s defense team to introduce information about the accuser’s sexual activities during the 72 hours prior to her rape exam the afternoon of July 1, 2003. Ruckrielge said it would help the jury determine the source of her injuries, DNA evidence and evaluate her credibility.Prosecutor Ingrid Bakke said that if all the rape shield evidence were admitted in the case, the prosecution would have to “sit down and re-evaluate the quality of its case and its chances of a successful prosecution.”Ruckreigle, however, limited that evidence to her activity to the 72 hours prior to her rape exam.Ruckriegle also allowed Bryant’s tape-recorded statements to investigators, and a T-shirt stained with the alleged victim’s blood in three spots to be admitted.Bryant, 25, has pleaded not guilty to felony sexual assault, saying he had consensual sex with the woman, now 20, at a Vail-area resort last summer. If convicted, he faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation, and a fine up to $750,000.During the hearing, District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said there were brief discussions about a plea deal, but the two sides were “very far apart.”• Two sets of underwear exist, a purple pair the alleged victim wore the night of the alleged rape by Bryant, and a yellow pair she wore to her rape exam the next afternoon. Johnson said the same semen and sperm was found on the purple underwear and the yellow underwear. Prosecutors say the yellow underwear already had semen and sperm from another man when she pulled them on, and that provided the other man’s sample found on her during her rape exam. Johnson said her laboratory and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation both found genetic material matching Bryant and the other man. The defense plans to call on the CBI’s DNA investigator Yvonne Woods to testify that Johnson and Woods, doing different tests, came to the same conclusions.• The accuser’s attorney, John Clune, has publicly denied the suggestion she had sex with before going to police, saying “anyone trying to prove otherwise will be chasing ghosts.”• Prosecutor Dana Easter has called that sample miniscule.• Johnson disputed the prosecution’s theory that the other man’s semen and sperm was transferred to the alleged victim by the yellow underwear she wore to her rape exam. She said is was “highly unlikely” that the other man’s sperm and semen could have found its way into the alleged victim from her yellow underwear.• The yellow underwear was heavily stained with blood. Where there was semen on the yellow underwear, there was blood, Johnson testified.• According to court filings outlining Bryant’s rape exam, none of the other man’s DNA were found on Bryant’s person.• Nine cuttings were taken from Bryant’s T-shirt, which he handed over to sheriff’s investigtors when they interrogated him, during the early morning hours of July 2, 2003. Only Bryant’s and the alleged victim’s DNA were found on those cuttings.