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Kobe Bryant Defense Team Probes Accuser's Background; No Body Found in Patrick Dennehy Case

Aired July 24, 2003 - 20:43   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: There were some interesting developments today in a couple of high-profile cases. The judge in the Kobe Bryant sexual assault case is limiting what attorneys can say to the media.
The other case is that of missing Baylor basketball player Patrick Dennehy. A teammate, Carlton Dotson, has been charged with killing him. But members of Dennehy's family today said they hope he is still alive.

We're going to talk over both cases now with legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

How are you?


So you're not surprised that Kobe Bryant's attorney would be sicking attorneys on folks in local community trying to dig up as much dirt as they can on the accuser.

TOOBIN: Well, that's a little hostile way of putting it, but it is fair.


ZAHN: They're not searching for nice things about the accuser.

TOOBIN: Well, they're not, but they're defending their client. And I think it's responsible defense work to go find out about everything you can relating to the crime, including if the accuser has credibility problems, which is a nice way of putting it.

ZAHN: That's a much nicer way of putting it, but they're still searching for things that will make their client look good, no matter how you cut it, Mr. Prosecutor.


TOOBIN: Exactly. They're not looking for objective facts. They're advocates and they're looking for ways to discredit the woman who will undoubtedly be the key witness in the whole case, the accuser.

ZAHN: Well, let's talk about some information that has been made public.

TOOBIN: Right.

ZAHN: Campus police showed up at the accuser's dorm in February, apparently told that she was potentially going to attempt suicide.

TOOBIN: Correct.

ZAHN: How meaningful is this and is it really analogous to the case?


TOOBIN: Well, that's the interesting question.

This is, of course, a rape case. Colorado has a rape shield law. Prior sexual history is not admissible. This isn't sexual history. This is potentially some other kind of history. Will that be admissible? Does it go to her credibility? That will be the question. If you potentially try to commit suicide two months earlier, does that make you more likely to make a false accusation? I can see arguments being made both ways.

We need to know more about it, if this really took place. But, clearly, it's the kind of thing the defense is going to want to exploit, if only to get into the public domain, if not in front of the jury directly.

ZAHN: Take us inside of this head of this district attorney. He sees this high-priced legal talent coming up against him. It's got to be intimidating.

TOOBIN: It's intimidating, but he's no dummy.

He knows this is a consent defense case. The defense is consent: She was a willing participant in the sex. That's the defense. And so now she's saying -- they have to discredit her claim that she's -- that it was rape. They're going to do everything they can to discredit her. He knows that. He undoubtedly has gone over all of her history with her. He feels that, notwithstanding perhaps bad things in her background or things that can be used against her, the jury is going to believe her.

ZAHN: Let's move on now to the case of missing basketball player Patrick Dennehy. For the first time, many of us got to hear portions of that 911 tape when Carlton Dotson was talking.

Let's listen to that together.


CALLER: Uh, Carlton Dotson.

DISPATCHER: I'm sorry?

CALLER: Carlton Dotson. I would like to, I would like to, I would like to -- for you to -- also let the Dorchester County police know that I'm... DISPATCHER: OK, are you wanted by them or something?

CALLER: What did you say?

DISPATCHER: Are you wanted by them?

CALLER: No, I'm not wanted by them, but -- but I -- I mean, they, they want to keep close tabs on me.

DISPATCHER: OK. Do you know the phone number that you're calling from?

CALLER: That's my cell phone number.

DISPATCHER: OK, do you know it?


ZAHN: So, as a prosecutor, what are you hearing in that?

TOOBIN: Well, he sounds pretty whacked-out. He's not in -- he's disturbed in some way. I mean, you could put a positive defense spin on that, that he is trying to let the authorities know where he is. He is not -- he doesn't want them to think he's running away.

ZAHN: But that he's scared.

TOOBIN: He's scared about something.

ZAHN: Also, we've heard that Mr. Dotson provided some very specific information about the murder of Patrick Dennehy. What does that lead to you believing?

TOOBIN: Well, it's peculiar, because there have been various reports in various news outlets that he confessed and that he said where the body was. But they haven't found this body. If he said where the body was, they would have found it by now. So...

ZAHN: And police sources have actually told CNN that there is no active search for the body going on right now.

TOOBIN: Which is so weird.


TOOBIN: Obviously, there is a lot of confusion about his story. I imagine, like a lot of people, he may have said different things. But it is also possible that unduly incriminating information about him has come out.

Maybe he didn't confess. Maybe this case is not as clear as all that and police are sort of stuck looking for the body. I mean, if he had said where the body was, they would have found it by now. And they haven't. And they're not even looking for it, as they said.

ZAHN: Interesting. Well, we're going to keep our eyes on you and expect you to keep your eyes and ears on these cases.

TOOBIN: Will do. Lots more to come.

ZAHN: Always good to see you, Jeffrey.


Body Found in Patrick Dennehy Case>

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