Sex crimes specialist added to team
DENVER -- The team of prosecutors working on the sexual assault case against NBA star Kobe Bryant is growing.
The Jefferson County district attorney has agreed to let Dana Easter help his counterpart in Eagle County work on the case. Easter, a former nurse, specializes in crimes against children and sex crimes.
Legal experts said prosecutors were apparently gearing up for a court fight against Bryant's experienced defense team, Hal Haddon and Pamela Mackey.
"They're not surrendering, in fact, they're looking for reinforcements," Denver defense attorney Scott Robinson said Tuesday. "I don't think it's fair to see this as anything but an indication that the prosecution isn't going to go down without a fight."
Easter, 48, worked as a nurse for several years before joining the Jefferson County district attorney's office in the late 1980s, spokeswoman Pam Russell said. She was a founding member of a team made up to ensure consistency in handling sexual assault cases.
Easter also helped develop a standardized way of collecting rape evidence and works on the state's Ending Violence Against Women project, which trains law enforcement officers, victims' advocates and prosecutors in handling sex assault and domestic violence crimes.
"She's very capable, very personable and quite frankly very realistic about analyzing charges prior to trial," Robinson said. "It's an enormous coup for (District Attorney) Mark Hurlbert."
Bryant, 25, is accused of raping a 19-year-old worker at the Eagle County hotel where he stayed June 30. The Los Angeles Lakers guard has said the sex was consensual.
Free on $25,000 bond, Bryant faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation if convicted. No trial date has been set.
Hurlbert's spokeswoman, Krista Flannigan, said he and Jefferson County District Attorney Dave Thomas are still working out how much Easter will be able to help, but she said Easter will not be a full-time addition to Hurlbert's team.
In late July, Boulder County prosecutor Ingrid Bakke, another widely respected expert on sex crimes, began working full-time on the Bryant case. She and Easter have worked together extensively, Russell said.
Former Denver prosecutor Karen Steinhauser said Hurlbert and his deputy, Greg Crittenden, have to keep up with other cases.
"The workload is too great for any one person," said Steinhauser, a visiting professor at the University of Denver School of Law. "When you consider the fact that no one really has the luxury from the prosecutor side of just being able to work on just one case -- you also have to keep up with all the other cases on your docket -- you've got to get more help."
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press
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