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Kobe Awaits Judge's Ruling

Accompanied by security, L.A. Lakers' star Kobe Bryant heads to court for a continuation of his preliminary hearing in a sexual assault case at the Justice Center Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2003 in Eagle Colo.
AP
Prosecutors tried to portray Kobe Bryant as an arrogant superstar who forced himself on a 19-year-old woman even after she said no. Defense attorneys went after his accuser, suggesting she had other sex partners in the days before the alleged attack.

Now a judge will decide whether the evidence justifies putting the Los Angeles Lakers' guard on trial to face charges that could bring life in prison.

A two-day preliminary hearing jammed full of revealing details about both Bryant and his accuser ended Wednesday with one more startling revelation: that the panties the woman wore to her rape exam contained the semen of another man.

Both sides claimed victory, with the prosecution saying it presented clear evidence the woman was raped and the defense contending she lied about a sexual encounter with a celebrity she was more than eager to meet.

"She is not worthy of your belief," defense attorney Pamela Mackey said.

Judge Frederic Gannett may rule as early as Monday on whether to dismiss the case or send Bryant to trial on sexual assault charges.

Most legal analysts said they expected Bryant would be ordered to trial, and a prosecutor said there was "uncontradicted" evidence that Bryant raped the woman June 30 at the Cordillera Resort & Spa where she worked.

"He held her by the back of the neck with his hand during sexual intercourse," prosecutor Greg Crittenden 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."

Crittenden was largely successful in getting the woman's story of her encounter with Bryant told during the hearing that drew a horde of media members to this tiny mountain town.

He put Eagle County Detective Doug Winters on the stand to lead him through details of an encounter that began with innocent flirtation, led to consensual kissing and escalated into sex with the woman over the back of a chair in Bryant's hotel room.

But while prosecutors were eager to let the public hear the graphic details, they also got an indication of how savagely the defense will go after his accuser should the case go to trial.

During Wednesday's hearing, Mackey got Winters to admit that another man's semen was on the yellow panties the woman wore to her rape test the day after her encounter with Bryant. The panties were a different pair than the underwear the woman said she wore the night she met the basketball star.

CBS News Correspondent Bill Whitaker reports Winters also admitted that, according to her first police interview, the alleged victim never said "no" to Bryant and that she indeed had consensual sex just days before the alleged assault.

The revelation plays into the defense's contention that the woman had multiple sexual encounters in the days before she claims she was raped and that her injuries may have been caused by those encounters. However, prosecutors say it violates prohibitions on bringing an accuser's sexual history into a rape trial.

"It's startling, it's impressive but its negative public relations value for the prosecution is more significant than its legal value," said Stan Goldman, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

Indeed, both sides appeared to be playing to public sympathies during the hearing in an effort to bolster their cases among any potential members of a jury.

That's why prosecutors brought out details such as the woman's claim that Bryant made her kiss his penis before she was allowed to leave, and that's why Mackey suggested last week that the accuser's injuries were consistent with someone having sex with three men in three days.

If the case goes to trial, though, any discussion of the women's sexual past will be limited by Colorado's Rape Shield Law. And prosecutors may have trouble convincing a jury that a woman enamored of Bryant's celebrity had no intention of having sex with him as they kissed in his room.

Eagle County District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said there was more to come from the prosecution if the case goes to trial. He said prosecutors deliberately limited the hearing to testimony by Winters so they would not have to lay out their entire case.

"No prosecutor puts on their whole case at preliminary hearing," he said. "In this case you saw kind of a sanitized version."

But CBS News Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen said the prosecution would face a tough test at trial.

"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," Cohen said. "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."

However, former prosecutor Wendy Murphy told the CBS News Early Show she expected the case to go to trial.

"The core testimony that we heard from the victim through the detective was really untouched," Murphy said. "And that testimony alone is more than sufficient evidence to justify sending this case to trial."

If a trial is ordered, Bryant will have to come back within 30 days to enter a plea. After that, a trial could be held within six months, though many expect it to be delayed until next summer's NBA offseason.