Sheriff, attorneys disagree on evidence, timing in Bryant case
Eagle County Sheriff Joe Hoy and attorneys for Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant disagree on the merits of the case and the investigation by Hoy’s department.
Hoy said he is confident in his decisions and in the evidence that led him to seek an arrest warrant against Bryant on felony sexual assault charges.
“We had two deputies work more than 30 hours on this, interviewing people and gathering evidence,” Hoy said. “We did our job. We performed our investigation with concern for everyone involved.
Bryant’s attorneys, though, say Hoy bungled his handling of their client’s arrest warrant. And if that was done improperly, they asked, what else was?
Bryant’s attorneys Harold A. Haddon and Pamela Robillard Mackey, and his agent, Robert Pelinka, said Bryant is innocent and blasted the sheriff’s investigation.
They said that while the Sheriff’s Office can arrest people, only the District Attorney’s Office decides whether to file charges, and Hoy should have waited for District Attorney Mark Hurlbert to determine if there was probable cause. They said Hoy’s move to bypass the District Attorney’s Office and go to the judge indicated bias and unfairness.
“We are hopeful that the investigation will continue with unbiased investigators,” they said.
Hoy said the Clear Creek County Judge Russell Granger, who issued the warrant, agreed with him.
“Judge Granger was confident enough in it to sign off on it,” Hoy said.
Hoy’s move also put Hurlbert in a tough spot when the story broke Sunday night and he was questioned about it.
Hurlbert reached an agreement with Bryant’s attorneys at about 4 p.m. Wednesday, July 2, that no action would be taken over the long holiday weekend, Hoy said. Hoy said he had not been informed of the decision until after it had been made, at about 5:30 p.m.
“It was a miscommunication, nothing more,” said Hoy.
The next day, however, Hoy pushed ahead to obtain an arrest warrant for Bryant through Judge Granger, instead of through the normal channels of the District Attorney’s Office. Judge Granger issued the warrant on Friday, July 4.
Bryant’s attorneys said they were told by the District Attorney’s Office that there was insufficient information to issue a warrant or to file charges last week. In most cases, Hurlbert said, the Sheriff’s Office brings its evidence to the district attorney before action is taken.
During Monday’s news conference, Hurlbert said Monday afternoon was his first opportunity to study the case.
“The District Attorney’s Office stated to us that more time was needed to complete and analyze the investigation before any decisions were made,” Bryant’s attorneys said.
Judges rotate through area courtrooms, Hoy said, and Granger was in Eagle County hearing cases that Thursday. When Hoy wanted Bryant’s arrest warrant, he went to Granger.
Hoy said Bryant’s attorneys were told Friday, July 4, that an arrest warrant had been issued. He said they informed their client that day.
Hoy said he never before had went to a judge to obtain an arrest warrant.
He told Bryant’s attorneys about the decision, and that they informed Bryant, who flew back to Eagle County Friday night to turn himself in and post the $25,000 bond, Hoy said. Bryant got back on a plane at the Eagle County Regional Airport and was headed back to California in about an hour, Hoy said.
“I felt I did the right thing for everyone involved,” Hoy said.
Hurlbert said he asked Judge Granger to seal the file, making it inaccessible to the public. He said he hoped to protect the identity of the alleged victim. Granger granted the request.
Hoy insisted that despite obtaining the arrest warrant from the judge last week, there was no urgency in the case. He said he issued the arrest warrant last Friday to give the families involved an opportunity to deal with the situation.
Hurlbert said whether or not he approves of Hoy’s move is irrelevant. He said the judge found probable cause, and that’s what matters.
“Whatever was said about the arrest warrant is behind us,” Hurlbert said. There was nothing illegal or improper. I support the sheriff, his department, and his investigators in this investigation.”