EAGLE, Colo. -- Kobe Bryant missed a court appearance in his sexual assault case yesterday as lawyers argued privately over whether his accuser has waived her right to medical privacy.
"Kobe's sick," defense attorney Pamela Mackey told reporters just before the judge opened the two-day hearing without the Los Angeles Lakers star after Bryant waived his right to appear.
Bryant is expected to attend when the hearing resumes today, said Karen Salaz, state courts spokeswoman. He was in the area yesterday, officials said.
Prosecutors and defense lawyers questioned at least four witnesses, apparently trying to determine what Bryant's 19-year-old accuser told them about her medical history. At least two witnesses, including Lindsey McKinney, a former roommate of the woman, appeared close to tears when they left the courtroom.
"Team Kobe has an opportunity to examine witnesses allied with the accuser under oath," said Craig Silverman, an attorney who is following the case. "This is a golden opportunity to get free discovery."
Bryant, 25, faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation if he is convicted of felony sexual assault. He has said he had consensual sex with the employee of the mountain resort near Vail where he was staying last June.
The defense has suggested the woman twice attempted suicide and was taking an antidepressant in the months before her encounter with Bryant. Bryant's lawyers say the woman waived her right to medical privacy by discussing her history with friends and others -- a key argument that, if successful, would allow the defense to use the details in hopes of undermining her credibility with a jury.
If the judge rules the woman waived her medical privacy rights, the defense would still have to prove the information is relevant to be able to use it against her at trial.
State District Judge Terry Ruckriegle closed the hearing to the public to protect the woman's privacy, but court officials confirmed medical privacy issues were being discussed. The hearing is also expected to include closed-door arguments about whether sheriff's investigators illegally questioned the NBA star the night after the alleged attack.
At issue is a 75-minute interview held in Bryant's room at the resort. The defense contends the interview was conducted illegally, and that Bryant's statements, as well as physical evidence such as clothes collected during and after the interview, cannot be used against him.
Ruckriegle ruled last week that any testimony or evidence about Bryant's statements will be heard in private because the statements could influence potential jurors and may not be allowed at trial.