Hurlbert appeals evidence ruling |

Hurlbert appeals evidence ruling

Randy Wyrick
**FILE** District Court Judge Terry Ruckriegle listens in court at the Justice Center in this Nov. 13, 2003, file photo in Eagle Colo., during a hearing for L.A Lakers' star Kobe Bryant. Pressure is mounting on Ruckriegle, the judge overseeing Kobe Bryant's sexual assault case, with prosecutors citing courthouse gaffes as a reason for seeking the indefinite delay of the NBA star's criminal trial and the father of his accuser blasting the bench for bias against the prosecution. (AP Photo/Hyoung Chang, File)

EAGLE – Prosecutors in the Kobe Bryant rape case say the alleged victim’s sexual activity 72 hours before her rape exam is irrelevant and are asking the Colorado Supreme Court to overturn the judge’s rape shield ruling to include that evidence in the trial.In an appeal filed Wednesday, District Attorney Mark Hurlbert of Breckenridge asked the state’s high court to overturn Breckenridge resident and District Judge Terry Ruckriegle’s decision to allow questioning in court about the alleged victim’s sexual activity for approximately three days prior to her rape exam, the afternoon of July 1, 2003.

The Colorado Supreme Court hears such petitions later this week. It’s not clear whether they’ll hear Hurlbert’s request this week or next.The state’s high court must first decide whether to accept the request under seal – out of public view – as Hurlbert requested, then whether the justices will even hear the appeal.District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Krista Flannigan said those questions could take up to two weeks to answer.

Hurlbert is appealing Ruckriegle’s decision to allow Bryant’s defense attorneys, Pamela Mackey and Harold Haddon, to bring in evidence of the alleged victim’s sexual conduct during the 72 hours preceding her rape exam. Ruckriegle said the evidence will help the jury determine the cause of vaginal injuries found by the sexual assault nurse examiner. Those injuries include two genital tears 1 centimeter long, and several other much smaller tears, less than a millimeter long.Ruckriegle ruled that the evidence from the 72-hour period will help the jury determine how those injuries might have been inflicted – by Bryant or someone else – as well as the source of the DNA and other bodily fluids found on the alleged victim and her underwear, and help the jury understand the expert testimony about that physical evidence.Ruckriegle will also allow defense attorneys to explore the relationship between Bryant’s alleged victim and each outcry witness, former boyfriend Matt Herr and Bob Pietrack, who was working as the bellman at the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera the night of the incident.

Bryant’s lead defense attorney, Mackey, blew up last fall’s preliminary hearing when she asked the stiletto question, “Could her (Bryant’s alleged victim) injuries have been caused by having sex with three men in three days.”Bryant’s defense attorneys have also asserted that the alleged victim had sex with someone else after her encounter with Bryant in his suite at the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera, June 30, 2003, and her rape exam the next afternoon at Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs. Another man’s DNA was found inside and on the outside of the woman’s body, as well as in the underwear she wore to the exam and the pair she wore the night of the incident with Bryant.Hurlbert has already appealed one of Ruckriegle’s decisions to the Colorado Supreme Court when Ruckriegle ruled that the alleged victim would have to testify during a pretrial hearing, and that there would be few limits on the questions the defense could ask her. The court upheld Ruckriegle’s order and ordered the alleged victim to appear.

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