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Judge hopes to make his decision by Friday

EAGLE, Colo. -- A judge said Wednesday he hopes to
decide this week whether to unseal documents in the Kobe Bryant
sexual assault case that could include statements from his accuser
and witnesses about what happened in his hotel suite six weeks ago.

The documents have been sealed since Bryant was arrested last
month, but media organizations have sought their release. Legal
experts say the records could include details from witnesses who
saw the Los Angeles Lakers star or his accuser, or heard sounds
from Bryant's hotel room.

The material could also outline what evidence has been
collected.

Eagle County Judge Frederick Gannett said he hopes to make his
decision by Friday. He said if he does rule in favor of releasing
the documents, an appeal will almost certainly keep them sealed
pending a hearing.

Bryant, 24, is charged with raping a 19-year-old employee of the
Lodge & Spa at Cordillera on June 30. He has said the sex was
consensual.

Bryant, who remains free on a $25,000 bond, is scheduled to
return to Eagle for an Oct. 9 preliminary hearing, where Gannett
will decide whether there is enough evidence for a trial.

Little is known about evidence in the case, though District
Attorney Mark Hurlbert has said he believes he can prove the charge
beyond a reasonable doubt. Records are sealed and Gannett has
issued a gag order on attorneys and investigators.

However, documents in other sexual assault cases suggest the
Bryant records include an arrest affidavit in which investigators
describe their involvement in the case and what they were told by
his accuser. They also could include statements from Bryant
himself.

Search warrant affidavit and return documents would describe
what evidence investigators sought and what they found.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation has conducted tests on
evidence in the Bryant case. Deputy Director Pete Mang declined to
discuss details, but he said evidence in rape cases generally
includes fingerprints, hairs, fibers, DNA test results and
documents.

If the case goes to trial, Bryant's admission of adultery will
put more emphasis on his credibility and that of the woman, legal
experts said. But they also said prosecutors will also have to
present convincing physical evidence.

"Credibility contests are especially hard to win in a criminal
context where the burden of proof is so high," said Katharine
Baker, a Chicago-Kent College of Law professor. "You really,
really have to believe Sally more than Bill."

Without physical evidence, it will be difficult to convict
Bryant, said Stan Goldman, professor at Loyola Law School in Los
Angeles.

"It's not like this guy has prior sex assaults on his record,"
he said.

Any injuries suffered, torn clothing or screams that would be
consistent with the use of force also would be key evidence.

"There are two issues in a sex assault case," Mang said. "One
is I didn't do it, I wasn't there and yes, I did do it, it was
consensual."

"This is all information that the jury will finally decide how
much."