No delay for Bryant's sexual assault trial


Friday, August 13, 2004 Posted: 9:03 PM EDT (0103 GMT)


EAGLE, Colorado (CNN) -- The judge in the Kobe Bryant sexual assault case rejected the prosecution's request for a delay in the trial on Friday, saying there was no reason to do so.

Jury selection in the criminal case is set to begin August 27.

"In summary, this court cannot conclude that the juror pool in Eagle County has been improperly or unduly influenced," Judge Terry Ruckriegle ruled.

Ruckriegle did rule in favor of the prosecution on one key aspect. The accuser's mental health and medical history will not be allowed in the trial.

Earlier this week, District Attorney Mark Hurlbert filed a motion to delay Bryant's trial date, saying he needs more time to prepare.

Hurlbert cited the court's slow response to requests from the prosecution, delayed rulings and failure to allow the prosecution to respond after pretrial testimony by a doctor for the defense was mistakenly posted on the Web.

Hurlbert argued that the mistaken release of the information without a prosecution response will taint the potential jury.

Bryant's attorneys opposed the delay.

In a motion filed Thursday, defense attorneys said Bryant "will not waive his right to a speedy trial."

Particularly damaging to the prosecution's case, they said, is "the accuser's filing of a civil suit, thereby exposing her motivation to pursue her false accusation -- the hope of a large monetary reward."

The woman who has accused Bryant filed a lawsuit Tuesday in federal court in Denver against the Los Angeles Lakers star, seeking unspecified monetary damages.

The suit, named Jane Doe v. Kobe Bryant, alleges the basketball player raped the woman, then 19, in his hotel room.

Bryant, 25, pleaded not guilty May 11 to felony sexual assault, saying he had consensual sex with the woman.

The father of the woman accusing Bryant has written a letter to Ruckriegle. Posted on the Vail Daily newspaper's Web site, the letter blasts the judge for rulings allegedly biased for the defense, joking in the courtroom with defense lawyers and accidentally posting closed-door testimony.

A plan to drop case?

The prosecution is obligated to proceed to trial within six months of Bryant's not-guilty plea or the government must set him free.

Colorado trial attorney Craig Silverman has said that Hurlbert's motion may be part of a plan to drop the case.

"Even though there are some good bases for this motion to continue, it seems like part of a well-orchestrated strategy for this criminal case to go away," he said. "In all likelihood, the judge will deny the motion to continue and then the prosecution may throw up its hands and say, 'We're not going to proceed. We dismiss the case.' "

Among the reasons the trial should go forward, said Bryant's attorneys, is that almost 1,000 juror summons have been mailed, deposits have been put down and rooms reserved, all money that the county cannot recover.

They also said Bryant is ready to go to trial after spending money "that cannot be recovered if this case is continued."

If convicted, the Lakers star could be sentenced to four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation, and fined up to $750,000.

 Gallery: Timeline of case


Source CNN