Nurse testimony could be crucial
The nurse who examined Kobe Bryant’s alleged victim provided closed-door testimony that could help make or break Bryant’s chances, say local legal experts.
Lauren Gueriera’s testimony could be crucial for either convicting or exonerating Bryant, explained local attorney and federal and state prosecutor David Lugert.
Lugert said testimony from the sexual assault nurse examiner is important for two reasons.
First, and most obvious, is to get basic information about the transfer of the alleged victim’s clothing for evidence, and the protocol of getting rape kit examination information from the victim, such as clothing and bodily fluids.
Second, and probably more telling, is Gueriera’s opinions about the age of the vaginal injuries the alleged victim suffered. Because Gueriera is a trained sexual assault nurse examiner, it’s possible for her to determine how many hours old the alleged victim’s vaginal injuries were when Gueriera examined her.
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“That could set up time frame for the age of the injury,” said Lugert. “That would, or would not, open the door for sexual activity from someone other than Kobe Bryant.”
If Gueriera determined that the injuries had to have occurred in the last 24 hours before she examined the alleged victim, it could help convict Bryant.
“The nurse is not in a position to say who did it, but she is in a position to say when it happened,” said Lugert.
The defense has anticipated that argument, possibly making these waters muddy as early as last fall by raising the possibility of the alleged victim having had sex with three men in three days. Bryant’s attorneys also assert that one of those sexual incidents occurred within 15 hours after she had sex with Bryant – an assertion her attorney, John Clune, has adamantly denied.
In a Jan. 12 filing, Bryant’s defense attorneys also asserted that the kind of injuries suffered by the alleged victim heal more slowly, which they say could affect Gueriera’s findings on the timing of the injuries.
Besides a time frame about the injuries, as part of her examination Gueriera had to ask the alleged victim how the injuries occurred, who did it, and when.
“She would obtain a history of the event,” said Lugert. “She would have access to all the outside reports, but she might also have the alleged victim’s statements.
“They could also have discussed a possible sexual assault by Kobe Bryant, and if so, the nurse effectively becomes an outcry witness.”
The alleged victim’s statements to the nurse examiner become one of five statements the alleged victim would have given: first to the bellman the night of the incident; second to the rape crisis counselor; third in her initial contact with sheriff’s investigators, which would be in a written report; fourth would be in a detailed videotaped interview with the investigators while a rape crisis counselor was present; and fifth would be to the sexual assault nurse examiner when she was submitting to her rape kit examination at Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs.
“The defense wants to create a catalog of statements the alleged victim made after the incident,” said Lugert.
Those statements will be broken down point by point, to look for any conceivable inconsistencies.
“Every statement will be compared to every other statement,” said Lugert. “Minor inconsistencies can be explained away, but they’ll hammer away at any major inconsistency.”
Lugert said Bryant’s attorneys will likely bring up any inconsistency as early as their opening statements at trial, talking about how the alleged victim might have changed her statement.