Defense opposes release



Several news organizations want to read his statements to investigators.
EAGLE, Colo. (AP) -- Defense attorneys argued that Kobe Bryant's statements to investigators after the NBA player was accused of rape last summer should be kept secret because it is not yet certain they will be used in his trial.
In the court filing, made public Thursday, the lawyers opposed a news media request to release Bryant's statements and testimony about those statements.
In separate filings, prosecutors said they intend to introduce the statements at the trial but took no position on whether the statements should be released beforehand.
Attorneys for 12 news organizations asked District Judge Terry Ruckriegle last week to release the statements, which Bryant made to two Eagle County sheriff's deputies on July 1, 2003, the night after the alleged assault.
One deputy taped the interview with a recorder in his shirt pocket.
Judge allowed some of it
The defense had sought to bar the recording as evidence, but Ruckriegle ruled in July that some of Bryant's statements could be used at trial.
During the interview, Bryant explained why he thought his encounter with the woman was consensual, and became upset and occasionally cried, Ruckriegle said in his ruling. He said Bryant did not become "truly upset" until detectives told him they had a warrant to seize evidence and force him to submit to a hospital examination.
Attorneys for the news organizations said information that has been publicly released about the interview suggested Bryant did not say anything incriminating. That suggested that the defense wanted to keep the statement secret to protect Bryant from embarrassment, which the media attorneys argued was not a valid reason to keep the evidence sealed.
The 25-year-old Los Angeles Laker has pleaded not guilty to felony sexual assault. He faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation, and a fine of up to $750,000 if convicted. Jury selection is scheduled to begin Aug. 27.
Bryant's lawyers said news organizations have no right to view or publish potential evidence until it is admitted at trial, and that Bryant's privacy and fair-trial rights outweigh the media's First Amendment rights of access to criminal justice records.
News organizations involved in the request include The Associated Press, ABC, CNN, CBS, the Vail Daily, The Denver Post and others.
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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