Will district judge open the court files?

Updated: September 29, 2004, 7:28 PM ET
Associated Press

EAGLE, Colo. -- The man who brought the rape charge against Kobe Bryant said Tuesday that prosecutors came across at least some evidence suggesting the Los Angeles Lakers star was innocent of assaulting a Vail-area resort employee last summer.

The disclosure by district attorney Mark Hurlbert came in a response to criticism from the defense that such exculpatory material wasn't shared by prosecutors before the charge was dismissed at the alleged victim's request earlier this month.

Bryant's attorneys "contend that we suppressed exculpatory evidence," Hurlbert wrote. "Nothing could be further from the truth. Any exculpatory evidence that came into our possession, and there was very little, was turned over to the defense.''

Hurlbert did not provide details of the evidence.

In its filing, the defense said the Colorado Bureau of Investigation gave the prosecution evidence suggesting Bryant's innocence and that the accuser retracted some of her statements to investigators a month before Bryant's trial was scheduled to start. The defense also did not detail the alleged retractions.

The sharp exchange between Hurlbert and defense attorney Pamela Mackey centers in large part on claims that details about evidence and the accuser, now 20, were leaked throughout the case. The defense reversed course this week and called for releasing every case file, saying it would show how shoddy and unprofessional the prosecution was.

Hurlbert fired back, saying Bryant's attorneys were as responsible as anyone for leaks -- usually in open court -- and were now trying to tar authorities with "half-truths and outright lies."

"They have no compunction of violating several innocent people's privacy rights on a whim," Hurlbert wrote. "The hypocrisy is staggering, especially when considering that much of this information was already leaked by the (defense)."

Hurlbert also said it was up to him and the sheriff to determine whether every detail should be released, as Mackey had urged. Hurlbert and the woman's attorneys have long said her name, medical history and sex life should be sealed.

"During the 14 months of the criminal case, bit by bit, unflattering information about the victim was leaked to the press," Hurlbert wrote. "Much of this information was brazenly leaked by (defense attorney Hal) Haddon and Ms. Mackey in open court or in their motions. The trial court did nothing despite repeated requests."

The felony sexual assault charge was dismissed Sept. 1. District judge Richard Hart had ordered the case file sealed at the defense's request but is expected to order it released soon. Prosecutors and sheriff's officials are expected to make some redactions.

Bryant, 26, still faces a federal civil suit filed by the accuser seeking unspecified damages.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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