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Archive for Friday, December 19, 2003

Medical records to be centerpiece at Bryant hearing

December 19, 2003

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— Medical records and patient confidentiality will be at the heart of Kobe Bryant's hearing today, when key evidence will be discussed in detail for the first time before the trial judge.

The NBA player's lawyers will argue they should be allowed to introduce the records of the woman accusing him of rape. They also will try to show mental problems might have affected her perception of what happened in a hotel room with Bryant last June.

The defense witness list is sealed, but prosecutors have confirmed the woman's mother was subpoenaed to appear. At least one friend also has been subpoenaed.

An attorney for the woman has asked the judge to close the courtroom for any testimony regarding her medical history. State District Judge Terry Ruckriegle has not ruled on the request.

Bryant, a 25-year-old guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation if convicted of felony sexual assault. Bryant, who has said the sex was consensual, will be at the hearing. The Lakers play at home tonight, though Bryant was unsure if he will back in time for the game.

"I don't know, I don't know, I don't know," Bryant said at practice Thursday. "We'll see how long it takes."

Analysts said the defense needed to do everything it could to undermine the woman's credibility at trial.

"The prosecution is desperate to say in closing, 'Why would this woman make it up?' All the defense is doing is saying, 'Judge, don't tie our hands behind our back, we want to give an answer,"' said Denver attorney Larry Pozner, former president of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar.

Among the records the defense wants to use are documents from the North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley, where authorities brought the 19-year-old woman in February after determining she was a "danger to herself."

Defense lawyers Pamela Mackey and Hal Haddon have argued the woman tried to kill herself in February and again in May to get her ex-boyfriend's attention.

They also say she had been prescribed an anti-psychotic drug.

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