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Ruling on use of accuser's sex life due next month

EAGLE, Colo. -- Attorneys wrapped up arguments Tuesday on
whether the sex life of the woman accusing NBA star Kobe Bryant of
rape can be used against her at trial, ending weeks of closed-door
legal wrangling.

The details could be significant if they are admitted as
evidence, but more written arguments are due next week. That means
state District Judge Terry Ruckriegle won't make his decision until
next month.

Bryant left Colorado after a two-day hearing without learning
his trial date. Attorneys said they could be ready for trial by
late August.

State courts spokeswoman Karen Salaz said 1,000 summonses will
be sent to prospective jurors -- four times the usual number and
double the record sent out for a 2002 slaying case in the
four-county judicial district.

The high number is needed because of the publicity the case has
drawn and because of the transient nature of the Eagle County
population, home to Vail and other ski resorts. The judge said it
is typical for one-third to one-half of those summoned for jury
duty here not to respond.

"It all boils down to the intense publicity," said Howard
Varinsky, a jury consultant based in Oakland, Calif. "It's nearly
impossible to find people who haven't heard of the case … so in
voir dire [questioning], you try to find out if they have formed an
opinion on guilt or innocence."

He said it is likely many prospective jurors will be dismissed
because of bias caused by Bryant's celebrity status.

Bryant, 25, has pleaded not guilty to felony sexual assault,
saying he had consensual sex with the woman at a Vail-area resort
last summer. If convicted, the Los Angeles Lakers star faces four
years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation, and a
fine of up to $750,000.

Bryant's attorneys want to introduce evidence it says will show
the woman had "multiple" sexual partners during the week of her
encounter with Bryant. They have suggested the woman had a scheme
to attract attention from an ex-boyfriend, and that injuries found
on her during a hospital exam could have been caused by sex with
someone other than Bryant.

Prosecutors say the woman's sex life is irrelevant in
determining whether she was raped.

The issue has been the subject of closed-door hearings dating
back to March and took center stage again Tuesday.

Several forensics experts were at the courthouse, including
Henry Lee and Michael Baden for the prosecution. Both men
participated in the O.J. Simpson slayings case, and District
Attorney Mark Hurlbert has said they were expected to testify about
DNA evidence.

Baden, who reviewed the autopsy report in the unsolved slaying
of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey in Boulder, is also expected to
discuss injuries found on the woman if he testifies at trial. The
defense is trying to bar his testimony, but the details of their
request have been sealed.

Lee, a well known expert in forensics, is expected to be called
to counter the conclusions of a defense expert, Elizabeth Johnson,
who runs a forensics practice in California.

"Their fame is important, but their proven ability to
communicate with jurors is more significant," said Craig
Silverman, a Denver attorney who is following the case. "They are
formidable experts, great communicators and have a track record of
success."