Archive for Thursday, November 13, 2003

Bryant to appear before trial judge

November 13, 2003

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— Kobe Bryant will be back in a Colorado courtroom today for his first hearing before the judge that will preside over his sexual-assault trial.

During his initial appearance in state district court, the Los Angeles Lakers' guard is expected to be formally advised of the charge against him, his rights and the penalty he faces if convicted.

Judge Terry Ruckriegle also could adjust Bryant's $25,000 bond and set dates for upcoming hearings, including an arraignment. Bryant could enter a plea, though that isn't expected.

Both sides typically discuss plea arrangements in advance with the judge, but those conversations haven't occurred, prosecution spokeswoman Krista Flannigan said Wednesday. After a plea, a trial must be scheduled within six months.

Attorney Dan Recht, past president of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, said Bryant's attorneys probably would ask for an arraignment later this year to delay the start of the trial.

"My guess is the defense wants the trial to start after the basketball season," Recht said.

Bryant, 25, is accused of raping a 19-year-old woman June 30 at a mountain resort near Edwards where she worked and he was a guest. Bryant says the two had consensual sex. If convicted, Bryant would face four years to life in prison and 20 years to life on probation.

This week's brief hearing will occur between Lakers home games Wednesday and Friday. Bryant's attorneys had sought to allow him to skip his Aug. 6 appearance in Eagle County Court, but they made no request for today's hearing.

During his preliminary hearing last month, a sheriff's investigator testified the woman's blood was found on Bryant's T-shirt. Defense attorneys suggested the woman was promiscuous.

Attorneys for media organizations, including the Associated Press, are appealing a judge's decisions to close portions of that hearing involving testimony about Bryant's statements to police.

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