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Kobe's Lawyers Introduce 'Compelling Evidence'

The preliminary hearing in the Kobe Bryant (search) sexual assault case ended Wednesday, after the defense introduced what it described as "compelling evidence" that the accuser wore underpants containing another man's semen to her rape exam.

But prosecutors told Eagle County Judge Frederick Gannett (search) that there was "uncontradicted" evidence that the Los Angeles Lakers' guard raped the 19-year-old woman at a mountain resort.

Now, Gannett must decide whether there is enough evidence in the case to require a criminal trial. Bryant, who is free on $25,000 bond, faces the potential of life in prison if he is convicted.

Gannett said he hoped to rule by Monday whether Bryant will have to stand trial on a sexual assault charge that could send him to prison for life.

"I am confident that the judge will find probably cause and will bind this case over," said prosecutor Mark Hurlbert (search) in a news conference following the hearing. "It is not my intent to try this case to the media, but rather to try this case to an Eagle County jury of 12.

Wednesday's hearing was held in open court after Gannett shot down prosecutors' request to close portions of the proceedings to the public.

Accuser's Sexual History Questioned

Bryant's defense focused on the accuser's undergarments. Lawyers said the tests found "substances" -- later described by the lead investigator as semen -- from a man other than Bryant. His lawyers argue that injuries to the woman may have been caused by previous sexual partners.

Bryant attorney Pamela Mackey (searchwasted no time getting Detective Doug Winters to say that the yellow underwear the woman wore to her rape exam at a nearby hospital the next day contained sperm from another man, along with Caucasian pubic hair.

The 25-year-old Bryant, who is black, contends he had consensual sex with the woman.

Winters said the woman told him she had consensual sex with another man on June 27 or June 28 and used a condom, backing earlier defense suggestions she was sexually active before her encounter with Bryant.

Winters also said two pairs of panties from the woman were tested — one from the night of June 30, the other being the one she wore to a hospital for an exam the next day.

The latter pair contained blood and semen, Winters said.

"The accuser arrived at the hospital wearing panties with someone else's semen and sperm in them, not that of Mr. Bryant, correct?" Mackey asked.

"That's correct," Winters responded.

Mackey suggested injuries found during the woman's exam could have come from having repeated sex, a contention she first made in court last week.

The defense contends the tests on the underpants provide Bryant with "compelling evidence of innocence."

The defense questioning of Winters came six days after prosecutors revealed details of the alleged June 30 attack.

Bryant sat stoically with his hands folded watching his attorney tear apart the prosecution's version of the case. Occasionally, he leaned over and talked to his other lawyer, Hal Haddon.

Mackey, who was subdued while questioning Winters, also managed to introduce something prosecutors didn't talk about last week — a statement by the night auditor at the hotel who was the first person the accuser saw when she left Bryant's room.

The night auditor sent police a letter saying she saw the woman as she came back to the front desk at the Cordillera Lodge & Spa.

"What the night auditor says in her letter is the accuser did not look or sound as if there had been any problem," Mackey said, asking Winters, "Correct?"

"Yes," Winters responded.

Prosecutors remain unswayed by the defense's arguments.

"He held her by the back of the neck with his hand during sexual intercourse," prosecutor Greg Crittenden said. "He lifted up her skirt. She said 'no.' He pulled down her underpants and she said 'no.' He penetrated her from behind and she cried."

After the hearing, Hurlbert indicated there was plenty of evidence against Bryant that didn't come up during Wednesday's proceedings.

"No prosecutor does their whole case at preliminary hearing," he said.

Hurlbert said he had spoken to the alleged victim "and she's doing okay."

Analysts: Potential 'Disaster for Prosecution'

Legal analysts questioned the impact of the defense's new information.

Stan Goldman, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said the argument might be more of a public relations move.

"The defense may be spinning this more for the public than the court," he said. "It's impressive, but its negative public relations value for the prosecution is more significant than its legal value."

Others said the evidence of the woman's previous sexual partners and her admission she was excited to meet Bryant makes the prosecution's case appear weak.

"It's a disaster for the prosecution," Eagle attorney Jim Fahrenholtz said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.