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Kobe Trial Prelims Winding Down

NBA basketball star Kobe Bryant follows his attorney Pamela Mackey, right, into court for a closed pre-trial hearing on his sexual assault charges at the Justice Center in Eagle, Colo., on Monday, April 26, 2004.
AP
The last major pretrial disputes in the sexual assault case against Kobe Bryant could be argued this week, potentially paving the way for a trial date to be set.

State District Judge Terry Ruckriegle has indicated he wants to wrap up arguments by Wednesday on two defense motions that experts believe could decide the outcome of the case: the relevancy of the alleged victim's sexual past and whether certain evidence was gathered illegally.

Bryant, who scored 18 points in the Lakers' playoff victory in Houston Sunday, was attending Monday's session.

The expected three days of hearings will be closed, reports CBS News Correspondent Lee Frank. Bryant's attorneys continue their fight to use his 19-year-old accuser's sexual history against her, after last week losing their attempt to use her medical records to bring up reported suicide attempts. The defense contends the jury should hear about the woman's reported psychological problems and that she allegedly had sex with other men days before and hours after being with Bryant.

Also to be discussed privately is a defense motion to throw out some evidence, including taped statements the pro basketball star made to police and a T-shirt stained with the woman's blood.

Several witnesses including the woman have already testified in private during hearings earlier this spring.

Depending on progress on those issues, Ruckriegle has said he would hear arguments on several other topics Wednesday, including requests by the alleged victim and prosecutors to have Bryant enter a plea and to set a trial date.

The attorney for the alleged victim asked the judge last month to quickly schedule a trial so she could have an idea of when she can move on with her life.

Bryant's attorneys also want to know what compensation the basketball star's accuser and her family may have received, and that also will come up during these hearings, reports the Denver Post.

If she has received compensation, it could demonstrate "her financial bias in making and maintaining a false accusation against Mr. Bryant," attorneys Pamela Mackey and Hal Haddon say.

The 25-year-old Bryant has said he had consensual sex with the woman at the Vail-area resort where she worked last June. If convicted of felony sexual assault, he faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation.

Unlike most judges in Colorado, those in the judicial district that includes Eagle County typically wait until most pretrial disputes are resolved before asking a defendant to enter a plea. After a not-guilty plea is entered, the trial must be held within six months unless the defendant waives the right to a speedy trial.

Ruckriegle last week handed the prosecution a victory by barring defense access to the woman's medical records, though experts say witnesses most likely will be called to discuss her purported suicide attempts and antidepressant use.

Bryant's attorneys have suggested the woman had multiple sexual partners in the days before and hours after her encounter with Bryant. They say that could explain injuries found on the woman during a hospital examination.