Prosecution forges ahead despite latest setback

EAGLE, Colo. -- Prosecutors in the Kobe Bryant sexual
assault case lost a last-ditch attempt Monday to keep the NBA
star's lawyers from telling jurors about the alleged victim's sex
life, another in a string of setbacks as the trial date nears.

Without explanation, the Colorado Supreme Court refused to
consider an appeal of a ruling by the trial judge that the woman's
sexual conduct around the time of her encounter with Bryant is
relevant to the case.

The decision came as Bryant's final pretrial hearing got under
way. Much of the pretrial hearing was held behind closed doors.
State courts spokeswoman Karen Salaz said there still are some
questions to resolve on juror questionnaires, but she could provide
no more details.

If the justices had agreed to hear the prosecution appeal, the
trial could have been delayed for weeks beyond the scheduled Aug.
27 start date.

Prosecutors filed the appeal two weeks after the judge's ruling.
The delay, along with prosecutors' unsuccessful attempt last week
to indefinitely delay the trial, had prompted widespread
speculation about whether they would drop the case.

People involved in the case are prohibited from commenting under
a sweeping gag order, but district attorney spokeswoman Krista
Flannigan said prosecutors still plan to put the Los Angeles Lakers
guard on trial.

Monday's ruling came just three days after District Judge Terry
Ruckriegle denied the request to delay the trial. Prosecutors
sought the postponement in part because of the accidental release
of transcripts from a closed-door hearing, which they called
"extremely harmful" to their case.

In the transcripts, a defense witness explained why she believed
DNA evidence indicated the alleged victim had sex with another man
after her encounter with Bryant but before her hospital exam.

Further complicating prosecutors' task, the 20-year-old accuser
filed a civil suit against Bryant in federal court last week.

Defense attorney Pamela Mackey said in a court filing the lawsuit
had the effect of "exposing her motivation to pursue her false
accusation -- the hope of a large monetary award."

Former prosecutor Norm Early predicted the trial would begin as

"I believe she honestly believes she was sexually assaulted,"
he said. "She's been through an incredible amount of trauma, and
now is the time for Kobe Bryant to feel a little bit of trauma.
She's never had her day in court."

Bryant, 25, has acknowledged having sex with the woman at the
hotel where she worked last summer, but insists she consented. If
convicted of felony sexual assault, Bryant faces four years to life
in prison or 20 years to life on probation, and a fine up to

Meanwhile, U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch ordered attorneys
for the accuser to explain by Aug. 30 why they should be allowed to
go ahead with the civil lawsuit without publicly disclosing their
client's name. The order followed objections filed by attorneys for
news organizations who asked the judge to scrutinize the reasoning
behind the request.

In a closed-court hearing Monday, prosecutors were scheduled to
ask Ruckriegle to reconsider his decision allowing the defense to
tell jurors about money the alleged victim received from a victims
compensation fund.

The judge's decision could bolster the defense's efforts to
undermine the alleged victim's credibility.

The defense has indicated it plans to tell jurors that the woman
was given nearly $20,000, far more than usual, for mental health
care and other services. Details of their argument were filed under

In an open-court session on Monday, prosecutors suggested they
had some concerns about the way DNA evidence was handled.
Prosecutor Dana Easter would not elaborate, saying such information
should not be made public.

Prosecutors want to take testimony from all laboratory employees
who handled the DNA evidence. Defense attorney Hal Haddon said only
the employees who conducted DNA testing and analysis should

Ruckriegle told both sides to submit lists of lab employees they
want to call as witnesses and said he would decide later who must

The judge granted a defense request to order prosecutors to turn
over all evidence and expert opinion that could be exculpatory.
Easter said all such material had already been given to the