The long process of seating panelists for the Lakers star's rape trial kicks off Friday

By Todd Peterson
Updated August 27, 2004 04:35 PM

Some 500 candidates arrived at the Eagle County Courthouse in Eagle, Colo., Friday to begin the selection process for Kobe Bryant’s rape trial.

Potential jurors in the case are being asked to fill out a questionnaire with 82 items compiled by the defense and prosecution during the past several weeks, the Associated Press reports. Deciding which questions to ask would-be panelists required a great deal of consideration, one trial consultant said.

“You need to understand more than just surface things about someone,” consultant Beth Bonora tells AP. Determining how someone would respond to an argument based on simple demographics is not reliable, she said. “People are more complicated than that.”

The L.A. Lakers star is charged with felony sexual assault following an encounter last summer with a 19-year-old woman who worked at a Vail-area resort where he was staying. Bryant maintains the sex was consensual, and he has pleaded not guilty.

On Thursday, the prosecution drew fire from Judge Terry Ruckriegle, who dressed down attorneys because of a last-minute request that the judge said could delay the trial. Ruckriegle gave the prosecution until Tuesday to file a new request. At issue are the results of DNA tests that indicate whether Bryant’s accuser may have had sex with someone else following the alleged incident. Prosecutors say those results may be contaminated. The judge ordered the prosecution to present records of actions taken to correct any laboratory problems.

The trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 7. If convicted, Bryant faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation and a fine of up to $750,000.