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Defense Team Gets Access to 911 Calls

September 30, 2003|Steve Henson | Times Staff Writer

A judge gave Kobe Bryant's defense team a victory Monday, hours after announcing he would rule this week on critical questions pertaining to the Oct. 9 preliminary hearing.

Eagle County Judge Frederick Gannett ordered Vail police to hand over to Bryant's attorneys records of three 911 calls made from the home of the woman who has accused the Laker guard of sexual assault.

At least one of the emergency calls, in May, involved the woman overdosing on pills, law enforcement sources said. The records can be released only to Bryant's attorneys, not to the public.

Bryant, 25, admits having sex with the 19-year-old woman in an Edwards, Colo., hotel room on June 30, but denies raping her.

Gannett, after meeting with attorneys, said at an impromptu news conference outside his chambers that he would announce Thursday whether the accuser will testify at the preliminary hearing, and whether the proceeding will remain open to the public.

"It's just a matter of trying to sit down and integrate it all into one response," said Gannett, who added that he wanted to issue his rulings quickly to give attorneys an opportunity to appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court.

"If the decision is to close it, I want sufficient time for any party to seek review," he said.

Gannett also said he might have to postpone the preliminary hearing, at which he will determine whether there is enough evidence to send the case to trial.

Bryant's attorneys want it closed because, they contend, the evidence would taint a prospective jury pool. Prosecutors and media attorneys disagree, pointing out that no preliminary hearing in Colorado has been closed since the law was clarified in 1979.

Gannett also could decide whether the defense can see the woman's medical records, although prosecutors asked him to delay a ruling until after the preliminary hearing.

Legal experts say the defense has reason to waive the hearing if the woman does not have to testify and the proceeding is open.

In another development relevant to the case, the arraignment of a man charged with soliciting the murder of Bryant's accuser was postponed until Oct. 6 because the defendant's attorney said he had not received evidence from prosecutors.

Patrick Graber, 31, was charged last week with solicitation of murder and solicitation to dissuade a witness. Graber was arrested Sept. 18 after Bryant's security officers told Los Angeles County sheriffs they had received a letter from someone offering to "solve Bryant's problem" for $3 million.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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