Bryant's Lawyers Say They Have Evidence

Wednesday, October 15th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

EAGLE, Colo. (AP) _ Kobe Bryant's attorneys dropped another bombshell Wednesday, saying tests on the accuser's underpants revealed ``compelling evidence'' that the NBA superstar is innocent of rape and accused prosecutors of ignoring it.

The defense said the tests found ``other substances'' from a ``source'' other than the Los Angeles Lakers guard.

The details were released in a court filing at the same time Eagle County Judge Frederick Gannett rejected a prosecution request to close the remainder of a preliminary hearing to protect the 19-year-old woman accusing the NBA superstar of rape from more publicity.

The hearing is to determine whether Bryant, 25, will stand trial on a felony charge of sexual assault. He has said the sex with the Eagle woman was consensual.

The judge admonished the news media to exercise restraint in drawing any conclusions from testimony.

``Understand you have been privy to only a portion of the information,'' Gannett said. The hearing then resumed with the defense questioning of the lead investigator, sheriff's Detective Doug Winters.

Last week, the hearing began with graphic testimony from Winters, who said Bryant attacked the woman from behind and raped her over her protestations.

The defense then suggested in open court that the accuser may have had sex with other men in the days before the June 30 hotel room encounter with Bryant. Prosecutors responded by asking for the hearing to be closed _ a requested ridiculed by the defense in Wednesday's court filing.

``Now after damaging information about Mr. Bryant essentially unchallenged by cross-examination has been heard in open court and distributed worldwide as the prosecution intended, the prosecution now seeks to close the hearing,'' defense attorney Hal Haddon wrote.

``The defense never wanted this hearing to be open,'' he added. ``Now that it has begun in open court ... Bryant's right to a fair trial will be eviscerated if the prosecution is able to achieve what it clear intended all along.''

Haddon then accused prosecutors of deliberately misrepresenting blood evidence found on the panties.

``The clear implication of this testimony was that the accuser was bleeding due to the alleged sexual assault,'' Haddon said. Without elaborating, the filing said there was ``scientific evidence from the prosecution's own laboratory which shows that other substances in those same panties were from a source other than defendant.''

The defense said that evidence had been given to Gannett under seal, and it provided ``compelling evidence of innocence.''