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Judge could decide to go to trial Monday

DENVER -- Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant could learn this
week whether he will be tried on charges he raped a 19-year-old
hotel worker.

Eagle County Judge Frederick Gannett was expected to issue a
ruling as early as Monday.

"The sole question before the judge is does he have any
evidence that matches the elements of the crimes charged against
Kobe Bryant -- that's any evidence whatsoever. Because the
complaining witness has said Kobe Bryant is the person, it happened
in Eagle County, Colorado, and she was sexually assaulted, our
strong belief here is that he will bind the case over for trial,"
defense attorney Larry Pozner said Monday.

That doesn't necessarily mean there will be a trial, Pozner told
NBC's "Today" show. He said the case could still end up being
settled out of court.

A preliminary hearing that ended last week revealed graphic and
sometimes conflicting evidence about the June 30 encounter between
Bryant and his 19-year-old accuser.

Bryant, 25, has said the sex was consensual. His attorneys have
attacked the woman's credibility by questioning her sexual history
and bringing out evidence indicating she had sex with another man
shortly before the alleged attack.

Prosecutors tried to portray Bryant as an arrogant athlete who
held the woman down and raped her, concerned only that she might
talk about the encounter.

A relatively low threshold of proof is required at a preliminary
hearing before a case can go to trial. Under state law, evidence at
such a hearing must be considered in a light most favorable to
prosecutors.

If the judge decides to dismiss the charge against Bryant, he
will put the decision on hold for 10 days to give prosecutors time
to ask a district judge to take the case. Without such a request,
Gannett said he would dismiss Bryant's $25,000 bond.

If a trial is ordered, Bryant's attorneys could appeal, but
legal experts say that would be unusual. The case could send the
NBA superstar to prison for life if he is convicted.

Bryant worked out with the Lakers' younger players on Saturday
in El Segundo, Calif., but didn't play in an exhibition game
against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday night.