"Revelations’ nothing new for district attorney | VailDaily.com

"Revelations’ nothing new for district attorney

by Randy Wyrick
L.A. Lakers' star Kobe Bryant leaves the Justice Center Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2003 in Eagle, Colo., accompanied by his attorney Pamela Mackey following the preliminary hearing in his sexual assault case. (AP Photo/Peter M. Fredin)

Although the national media is abuzz about what it’s calling “revelations” from Wednesday’s preliminary hearing in the Kobe Bryant case, it’s old news to the District Attorney’s Office.

“Nothing was a surprise,” said district attorney’s spokeswoman Krista Flannigan. “The district attorney knew about this before the charges were ever filed.”

Under cross examination Wednesday by Bryant’s defense attorney Pamela Mackey, Eagle County Sheriff’s Detective Doug Winters testified that two pairs of the alleged victim’s underwear were tested by Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners – the pair she wore the night of June 30 when she was allegedly sexually assaulted by Bryant, and the pair she wore to Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs July 1 for her rape examination.

In the yellow knit underwear she wore to the hospital, the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners said they found a spot of blood and traces of semen from someone other than Kobe Bryant – a Caucasian.

Bryant’s alleged victim told Winters she’d had consensual sex on June 28 with someone who used a condom. It was not clear whether that garment was linked to that date.

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While it might be new to the court of public opinion, and is getting huge play in the media, it’s probably not admissible at trial and certainly isn’t new information to the district attorney, said Flannigan.

Local defense attorney Jim Fahrenholtz has been an outspoken critic of the prosecution’s case since early July when all this started. He remains unconvinced that the evidence is sufficient to warrant a conviction, or even criminal charges.

“Their case is still sinking like the Titanic,” said Fahrenholtz.

Jefferson County District Attorney Dave Thomas does not agree.

“This latest information to become public has nothing to do with what happened that night at the hotel,” said Thomas. “There’s not a lot of significance in this. All it tells me is that she may have had consensual sex with someone in the past. It tells me nothing about what happened on the night in question.

“I believe every woman has the right to consent to have sexual intercourse.”

Thomas said that because much of the alleged victim’s sexual history will inadmissible during the trial, the testimony of outcry witnesses and others becomes more important. None of that was part of the preliminary hearing.

“As a prosecutor, you put on as little evidence as possible to make sure it gets bound over for trial,” said Thomas.

District Attorney Mark Hurlbert spoke briefly with reporters after Eagle County Court Judge Fred Gannett recessed the preliminary hearing about 2 p.m. Wednesday. Hurlbert appeared a bit frustrated with questions about whether his case is weak.

“This was only a preliminary hearing. It’s not a trial,” said Flannigan. “All the evidence was not presented. No good prosecutor would put on his entire case for a preliminary hearing. This hearing was for purpose of the judge, not for the public.”

Thomas said in cases involving celebrities, defense attorneys must be concerned not only with the courtroom, but also with public opinion and public relations.

“Prosecutors tend to be concerned only with what happens in the courtroom,” said Thomas.

Hurlbert told reporters Wednesday that his intention was never to try the case in the media. He said his intention was to try the case before an Eagle County jury of 12.

“He still feels confident in the case. Nothing has changed,” said Flannigan. “He’s confident that the case will be bound over to District Court, and he’s confident for a successful prosecution when the case goes to trial.”

Bryant is charged with one count of felony sexual assault for allegedly raping the 19-year-old Eagle woman the night of June 30, at the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera. She was a hotel worker and Bryant was a guest.

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