Fri, Jul 16, 2004 - Page 24 News List

Judge agrees with Bryant's lawyers on medical exam

AP , DENVER, COLORADO

The judge in the Kobe Bryant sexual assault case barred evidence from a medical exam performed on the NBA star, saying investigators didn't have the proper court order to take him to the hospital in the middle of the night.

District Judge Terry Ruckriegle on Wednesday also rejected prosecutors' claims that Bryant had consented to the exam, saying investigators had officially taken him into custody by then.

The judge did deny a defense request to throw out a 75-minute interview of Bryant by detectives and evidence including a T-shirt stained with the alleged victim's blood. Bryant's attorneys said the material was gathered while he was illegally in custody, but the judge disagreed.

Ruckriegle said Bryant willingly talked to the detectives and gave them some of his clothing.

"There was no evidence of any coercion or undue influence put upon Mr. Bryant to either speak to them or to provide the items from his room," Ruckriegle said.

"We're pleased with the ruling and we consider it an important ruling," prosecution spokeswoman Krista Flannigan said. She did not specifically comment on losing the evidence from the medical exam.

Bryant, 25, has pleaded not guilty to felony sexual assault and faces an Aug. 27 trial. He has said he had consensual sex with a front desk worker, now 20, at the Vail-area resort where she worked last summer.

Bryant's attorneys have long criticized the Eagle County sheriff's office, saying investigators improperly questioned Bryant and botched the execution of a court order to gather evidence last July.

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