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Law

Bryant's secretly recorded statement admitted

From Gary Tuchman
CNN

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Bryant and defense attorney Pamela Mackey.
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(CNN) -- Kobe Bryant's statement to police shortly after a woman accused the NBA star of raping her will be allowed to be admitted as evidence in his sexual assault trial, even though it was recorded by police without his knowledge or consent, the judge in the case ruled Wednesday.

Fifth District Judge Terry Ruckriegle in Eagle, Colorado, also ruled that evidence taken from the room at the resort where the alleged assault occurred may also be submitted at trial.

Bryant's attorneys had requested that the recording of the interview be suppressed, saying their client should have been read his rights before it was made.

Prosecutors contend that Bryant had not been arrested or even detained at the time and, therefore, police were not required to read him his rights.

The interview came the morning of July 1, 2003, hours after a then-19-year-old woman -- who worked at the resort -- claimed Bryant raped her.

Ruckriegle wrote in his ruling that while Bryant was being interviewed, he was "occasionally crying and very emotional."

The Los Angeles Lakers guard has admitted to a sexual encounter with the woman, but has said it was consensual.

The judge also wrote that the court found to be credible statements from Detective Doug Winters and Detective Dan Loya saying that they initially advised Bryant that he was not under arrest and that he was free to leave.

The ruling noted that significant portions of the hourlong recording were inaudible.

"If the purpose of the surreptitious recording was to capture the suspect's answers, it was significantly ineffective," the judge wrote.

Bryant never indicated in any way that he would not or did not want to answer questions posed by detectives, the ruling said. In fact, there were times when it clearly appeared that he wanted to explain what had happened, the document said.

In the course of the interview, the ruling said, Bryant told the detectives that he had some clothing in his room which he implied might refute the allegation against him, and voluntarily gave it to them.

The ruling listed the items as two T-shirts, blue Nike track pants, boxer shorts and stationery from the hotel. CNN has previously reported that one of the T-shirts had spots of blood on it.

Ruckriegle wrote those items may be admitted at trial because of the "uncontroverted testimony that Mr. Bryant consented" to giving these items to the detectives.

Later in the interview, the detectives told Bryant they wanted to take him to a hospital for a rape examination. The ruling says Bryant indicated he would not go to the hospital, and the detectives then informed him they had a court order saying they could take him for such an exam.

However, because the detectives did not read Bryant his rights at that point -- and because of a technical problem with a search warrant they had -- the judge ruled that any statements the basketball player made and any evidence collected after that point could not be used at the trial, which is due to begin August 27.

"All evidence seized, statements made, if any, from the time that Mr. Bryant was told of the court order, through the conclusion of the July 2, 2003 physical examination of Mr. Bryant at the hospital ... will be suppressed," the ruling stated.

That applies to the results of the rape exam, as well, according to the document.


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