Prosecutors ask to postpone Bryant’s rape trial
EAGLE – Prosecutors are asking the opening of the Kobe Bryant rape trial be delayed, which, if granted, could set the trial back four to six weeks.Hurlbert’s request for a delay comes one day after Bryant’s alleged victim sued the L.A. Lakers star in federal court in Denver asking for an unspecified amount of money. It also follows a request by one of the alleged victim’s attorneys, Lin Wood, to be part of the criminal case. Ruckriegle must still rule on that, as well. Wood, an Atlanta-based civil attorney, was brought into the case last month by John Clune, a local attorney who has represented the alleged victim since last summer.Local defense attorney and former state and federal prosecutor David Lugert said the continuance will also give Ruckriegle a chance to deal with objections to the gag order the judge issued last week.Lugert said four less intrusive options are available to Ruckriegle besides the blanket gag order. First on that list is continuing the trial.
“Since one of the parties has made the request, it becomes a very real possibility,” said Lugert.The other possibilities include moving the trial; expanding the questioning of prospective jurors to eliminate people influenced by pretrial publicity; and adding jury instructions before, during and after the trial and before the jurors go into deliberations.Ruckriegle signed his blanket gag order one day after Bryant’s defense attorneys asked for it, banning anyone connected with the case from commenting publicly. That gag order came the day Clune and Wood did a round of television interviews in which they blasted the courts for accidentally releasing transcripts of a secret hearing dealing largely with Johnson’s testimony. Johnson said it was her opinion the alleged victim had sex with someone after Bryant. But the alleged victim, during testimony in a pretrial hearing, said that wasn’t true. Clune also has publicly called the assertion “absolutely false.”Prosecutors had what appeared to be a setback when Ruckriegle ruled the jury would hear information about the alleged victim’s sexual activity for about 72 hours prior to her rape exam on the afternoon of July 1, 2003. Samples of seminal fluid from someone other than Bryant were found in and on the outside of the alleged victim’s body, as well as in two pairs of underwear, including the pair she wore to her rape exam. The same DNA from one male was found on both pairs of underwear.
Prosecutors have said that semen was transferred to the alleged victim from underwear she wore to her rape exam and not from sex after the incident with Bryant.Bryant will be back in Eagle on Monday for the last of the scheduled pretrial hearings. Right now, his trial scheduled to begin Aug. 27 with jury selection. But that date will be delayed if Ruckriegle grants Hurlbert’s request for postponement.District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Krista Flannigan said prosecutors are going forward with the criminal trial, and that the alleged victim’s lawsuit, filed in Federal Court, has nothing to do with the criminal case in state District Court.
District Attorney Mark Hurlbert cited four reasons for requesting Kobe Bryant’s rape trial be delayed from its scheduled Aug. 27 start: Release of the transcript containing the entire testimony Dr. Elizabeth Johnson, the defenses DNA expert. Prosecutors did not put on experts during the June 21-22 private hearing. Those transcripts became public on Aug. 2. District Judge Terry Ruckriegle has not yet ruled on motions regarding mental health and drug and alcohol issues. If Ruckriegle rules those issues are admissible, Hurlbert said prosecutors might need to call at least five experts and up to 19 witnesses. Hurlbert called the associated cost will be enormous, and that the funds cannot be spent until they have that ruling. Hurlbert said the alleged victim needs more time to prepare for that drug and alcohol testimony at trial, if the matter becomes admissible. He said the testimony already taken during closed hearings was extremely intrusive and personal to the victim. Hurlbert said Byrants defense attorneys did not turn over photographs of sperm, apparently taken by Johnson or her staff at Technology Associates, until Aug. 3. Hurlbert said he has repeatedly asked for the items so prosecution experts could study them, and with the trial so close theres not enough time. He said the deadline for all information to be turned over from the defense to the prosecution was June 4.Vail, Colorado