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Detective recounts details of charge against Bryant

EAGLE, Colo. - The woman who accused Kobe Bryant of rape told police that a flirtatious encounter quickly turned ugly when he grabbed her by the neck and attacked her, repeatedly asking, "You're not going to tell anyone, right?" a detective testified yesterday.

Eagle County Sheriff's Detective Doug Winters described the encounter in graphic detail at a preliminary hearing that will determine whether Bryant will stand trial on charges that he assaulted the 19-year-old woman at the resort where she worked. His description of the event was based on an interview with the woman, who did not testify yesterday.

The hearing was expected to last only an afternoon, but was adjourned for the day after about six hours of testimony. Judge Frederick Gannett said the hearing would continue Wednesday, and the district attorney's office said Bryant must appear.

Bryant, 25, has denied raping the woman and said the sex was consensual. He sat at the defense table staring at the detective for much of the hearing, his hands folded in front of him. Bryant occasionally clenched his jaw, but showed little other reaction.

Winters described how, according to the woman, an exciting, chance meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers' superstar led to an assault that left her shaken and in tears. She said she told Bryant "no" at least twice and that he ignored her.

It began with a tour of the resort on June 30 that led to some flirting. She went back to Bryant's room and, after some conversation, showed him a tattoo on her ankle, then turned down his request to join him in the hot tub, Winters said.

Her shift at the front desk was ending and she wanted to go home, he said. "She stated she was starting to feel a bit uncomfortable."

She stood up to leave and Bryant gave her a hug that led to consensual kissing, Winters said.

When she turned to go, Bryant grabbed her by the neck from behind, forced her against a chair, then raped her, Winters said.

During and after the alleged attack, Winters said that Bryant kept asking, "You're not going to tell anyone, right?" She said she agreed at one point.

"She didn't want him to commit more physical harm to her," Winters said.

Though the testimony was lurid, the most explosive statement came from Bryant's own defense attorney when she suggested that the woman's injuries would also be "consistent with a person who has had sex with three different men in three days."

That led an angry Gannett to empty the courtroom and summon the lawyers to his chambers. Gannett was also upset earlier when defense attorney Pamela Mackey said the woman's name six times when asking questions.

Mackey apologized, saying she would write herself a big note not to say it.

"Or I could get you a big muzzle," Gannett said.

Winters, who was the only person to testify during the hearing, recounted his hourlong interview with the woman and her parents at their Eagle home the day after she met Bryant.

Winters said that after the alleged attack, the woman went back to the front desk to finish her work and left the resort with a bellman. She told him what happened and he urged her to report it, later following her home.

Winters testified that the woman's blood was found on the inside of Bryant's T-shirt, based on DNA tests. The woman told him she had bleeding from the attack, he said.

Winters said the woman seemed serious during the interview.

"I sensed a crackle in her voice," he said. "She stated that he raped her."

Winters said a nurse who examined the woman later at a hospital found injuries consistent with a sexual assault. The prosecution also presented photographs showing injuries, including one of a bruise on the woman's jaw.

Mackey suggested that Winters had no idea when the bruise occurred, and got him to acknowledge that the woman needed no treatment for injuries when she was examined. She also asked him whether he saw marks on her neck when he interviewed her the next day.

"She talks on how Mr. Kobe Bryant grabbed her neck and choked her," Mackey told Winters. "You looked at her neck to see?"

Winters said that he had, then Mackey asked if he had seen any injuries on her neck.

"Not from the front, no," he said.

"Not a red mark?" she asked.

"That's correct," he said.

"Not a scratch?"

"That's correct."

The hearing began as hundreds of reporters and a handful of spectators gathered outside the courthouse to catch a glimpse of Bryant, who arrived with his lawyers in a caravan of three sport utility vehicles. He had to take off a necklace and was checked with metal detectors before walking into the courtroom.

Many legal experts had predicted that the defense would waive the hearing to forego such lurid testimony, and some observers in the courtroom questioned the defense's decision to go forward.

"There was no other defense strategy than to smear the victim," said Norman Early, a former district attorney of Denver. "That's why they wanted a preliminary hearing. That's why all the experts thought there would be none, because nobody thought the defense team would stoop that low."

The hearing will continue at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

"I had hoped that we would have concluded the evidentiary portion of this hearing," Gannett said. "It creates a logistical nightmare."

Jeffrey Toobin, a lawyer who writes the legal affairs column for the New Yorker magazine, said: "This is a disaster for the defense. These are vivid, awful images of Bryant, and they will haunt him in every arena he plays in until the trial - and maybe for the rest of his career."

Bryant has the right to go to trial within six months, but he could agree to push that back until later, perhaps after the NBA season ends early next summer.

Bryant, who is free on $25,000 bond, left the Lakers' training camp in Hawaii on Wednesday to appear at the hearing. He faces up to life in prison if convicted of the felony charge.

There was no word about when Bryant would rejoin the Lakers, although he vowed last week to play this season. He also said he was "terrified" about the prospects of the case moving forward.

Craig Silverman, a former deputy district attorney in Denver who was at the courthouse yesterday, said: "So far, this shows Kobe to be a crude, boorish adulterer, but the charge here is sexual assault. A jury has to be convinced that he forced her to have sex."

There were about 300 reporters and camera crews stationed in Eagle, with television satellite trucks parked in a lot - at $555 a space - near the court.

Compared with Bryant's brief Aug. 6 court appearance, the atmosphere - outside at least - was subdued.

Heightened security was evident. Everyone involved in the case, including Bryant, his accuser and attorneys on both sides, has been threatened by e-mail, letter or telephone. A man pleaded not guilty Monday to charges that he asked for $3 million to kill Bryant's accuser.

Armed guards were outside the Eagle County Justice Center, and only one entrance was open.

The Associated Press, Los Angeles Times and The New York Times contributed to this article.

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