CBSN

Defense: 'Someone Else's Semen'

L.A. Lakers' star Kobe Bryant enters court for a continuation of his preliminary hearing at the Justice Center Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2003 in Eagle, Colo., Bryant is making the court appearance facing charges of sexual assault.
AP
Kobe Bryant's accuser showed up for her rape exam wearing underpants containing another man's sperm, a startling discovery that defense lawyers called "compelling evidence" the NBA star is innocent.

Bryant's preliminary hearing ended this afternoon in Eagle with no word on whether he'll face trial. Eagle County Judge Frederick Gannett said he hopes to issue a decision by Monday on whether to bind Bryant over for trial.

If he orders Bryant bound over, the case will go to district court where Bryant will be advised of the charge again and bond will be reiterated. Bryant could also face arraignment at that time.

At Wednesday's hearing, prosecutors told a judge there was "uncontradicted" evidence that the Los Angeles Lakers' guard raped the 19-year-old woman at a mountain resort.

"He held her by the back of the neck with his hand during sexual intercourse," prosecutor Greg Chrittenden said. "He lifted up her skirt. She said 'no.' He pulled down her underpants and she said 'no.' He penetrated her from behind and she cried."

Six days after prosecutors revealed details of the alleged attack, it was the defense's turn to question the lead detective in the case about what happened the night of June 30 at the resort where she worked.

Bryant attorney Pamela Mackey wasted no time getting Detective Doug Winters to say that the yellow underwear the woman wore to her rape exam at a nearby hospital the next day contained sperm from another man, along with Caucasian pubic hair.

The 25-year-old Bryant, who is black, contends he had consensual sex with the woman.

Winters said the woman told him she had consensual sex with another man on June 27 or June 28 and used a condom, backing earlier defense suggestions she was sexually active before her encounter with Bryant.

Winters also said two pairs of panties from the woman were tested — one from the night of June 30, the other being the one she wore to a hospital for an exam the next day.

The latter pair contained blood and semen, Winters said.

"The accuser arrived at the hospital wearing panties with someone else's semen and sperm in them, not that of Mr. Bryant, correct?" Mackey asked.

"That's correct," Winters responded.

Mackey suggested injuries found during the woman's exam could have come from having repeated sex, a contention she first made in court last week.

The defense contends the tests on the underpants provide Bryant with "compelling evidence of innocence."

"Based upon what we now know, and recognizing there is an awful lot to the story we don't yet know, this looks a lot like a very weak prosecution case," says CBS News Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen. "So even if the DA gets past this initial hurdle and gets the case to trial, it will be an awfully hard sell to get a conviction against Bryant.

"From the victim's credibility to the physical evidence to just plain common sense there seems to be plenty of reasonable doubt for any juror who is looking for it."

Stan Goldman, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said the argument might be more of a public relations move.

"The defense may be spinning this more for the public than the court," he said. "It's impressive, but its negative public relations value for the prosecution is more significant than its legal value."

Bryant, who faces a possible life prison term if convicted, sat stoically with his hands folded watching his attorney tear apart the prosecution's version of the case. Occasionally, he leaned over and talked to his other lawyer, Hal Haddon.

Mackey, who was subdued while questioning Winters, also managed to introduce something prosecutors didn't talk about last week — a statement by the night auditor at the hotel who was the first person the accuser saw when she left Bryant's room.

The night auditor sent police a letter saying she saw the woman as she came back to the front desk at the Cordillera Lodge & Spa.

"What the night auditor says in her letter is the accuser did not look or sound as if there had been any problem," Mackey said, asking Winters "Correct?"

"Yes," Winters responded.

Legal experts said the evidence of the woman's previous sexual partners and her admission she was excited to meet Bryant makes the prosecution's case appear weak.

"It's a disaster for the prosecution," Eagle attorney Jim Fahrenholtz said.