Defense pushes for evidence to be thrown out

Updated: December 16, 2003, 9:19 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

DENVER -- Kobe Bryant's defense team has filed a barrage of court motions in his sexual assault case, depicting his accuser as a troubled, attention-seeking young woman and asking a judge to throw out much of the evidence against him.

The motions released Monday also asked the judge to disregard the state's rape shield law, which limits what defense lawyers can ask about an alleged rape victim.

The defense seeks to bar evidence including a secretly taped interview of the Los Angeles Lakers star by investigators and a T-shirt he was wearing the night he allegedly assaulted the 19-year-old concierge at an exclusive resort where he was staying. Investigators say the woman's blood was found on the bottom of the shirt.

Bryant is charged with sexual assault. He has said he and the woman had consensual sex.

Seventeen motions filed by the defense and prosecutors were released Monday, four days before a hearing Friday. It wasn't immediately clear whether the judge would consider any of the motions at Friday's hearing, which Bryant is required to attend.

Another hearing is scheduled Jan. 23.

Bryant's hearing Friday is expected to begin mid-morning and not expected to end until late afternoon local time. The Lakers play host to the Denver Nuggets that night, and it's doubtful that Bryant could make it back to Los Angeles in time to play.

Laker spokesman John Black said Bryant had flu-like symptoms and did not attend Monday's practice. Most of the team is off Tuesday and Wednesday, with the Lakers resuming full-squad workouts Thursday.

The defense asked the judge for permission to introduce as evidence reports that the woman twice attempted suicide. The reports were based on her interview with an investigator, the motion said.

In that interview, the investigator suggested to the woman she had a pattern of calling her ex-boyfriend when she "attempts or thinks about committing suicide," the defense motion said.

The defense said it had submitted evidence under seal that the woman behaved this way the night of her encounter with Bryant.

To help prove their contention the allegations about Bryant are false, defense lawyers said they need to demonstrate that the woman "makes herself a victim through purported suicide attempts in order to gain the attention of her ex-boyfriend without regard to the harm and worry that causes to other people."

Prosecutors filed a motion warning the defense that any evidence that the woman made false reports of sexual assault before the Bryant encounter would have to be heard in a closed-door hearing.

Defense lawyers also asked permission to present evidence that the woman was taking a drug to treat schizophrenia. They said they submitted proof of that claim under seal.

Bryant's lawyers argued that evidence collected during a search of Bryant's hotel room should be thrown out because investigators did not tell him they had a warrant.

The defense said the T-shirt should not have been taken because Bryant was wearing it during the search, and the warrant authorized officers to take only items from the room, not his person.

Bryant's lawyers also argued the search was invalid because it was conducted after dark, but the warrant called for it to be done in daylight .

The warrant was issued on the basis of "reasonable suspicion," a less stringent standard than "probable cause," and under Colorado law could be done only in daylight hours. A probable cause search can be done any time.

"Cops are allowed to be tricky, but this may have crossed the line," said Denver defense lawyer Craig Silverman, a former prosecutor who recalled rushing to beat sundown to execute searches.

Bryant's attorneys argued that the state's rape shield law violates his due process rights by limiting personal information about the alleged victim, while evidence of other sexual acts by Bryant is automatically allowed.

The rape shield law, which is similar to laws in all 49 other states, makes defense lawyers prove why an alleged victim's sexual history is relevant evidence.

The motion will not likely succeed but could give the defense grounds to appeal if it is rejected and if Bryant is convicted, legal experts said.

Prosecutors filed a request to measure Bryant's hand, because the alleged victim told investigators Bryant initially tried to strangle her with two hands.

Bryant faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation if convicted. No trial date has been set.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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