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Posted on 06/28/2004 6:47:56 AM PDT by Hawk44
Kobe case could be biggest for detective
EAGLE - He's the guy who busted Kobe Bryant.
Yet when Doug Winters was asked recently if he's confident that he knows what happened in room 35 at the Lodge & Spa at Cordillera the night of June 30, there is a heavy silence lasting a full 10 seconds.
"I'm not sure if I can answer that or not," the Eagle County sheriff's detective finally said, "because everything is under seal."
It is true that Chief District Judge Terry Ruckriegle has imposed a gag order on players in Bryant's sexual assault case. It's also a fact that many of the potentially most revealing documents relating to it remain under wraps for now.
In a rare interview one week short of the one-year anniversary of the alleged assault, Winters was asked a second time if he believes he knows the truth about the encounter between the world-famous basketball star and the young Eagle woman he is charged with raping.
Once again he fell silent for 10 seconds and then said: "I don't feel comfortable answering that question, with everything being under seal. . . . I'm not saying no, I'm not saying yes."
Bryant has admitted adultery, saying the two had consensual sex. She told police he put his hands around her neck to keep her from leaving his room, and raped her over a chair.
A jury will soon decide who to believe. The trial is to begin Aug. 27.
Maybe Winters' pause in answering that question is meaningful. Perhaps not.
According to one published account, Winters and partner Dan Loya thought that another pause was very significant to this case.
According to Jeffrey Shapiro's book The Game of His Life, when the detectives asked Bryant in the early morning hours of July 2 whether the woman had ever said 'no' to him, Bryant allegedly waited 30 seconds before responding, "It was consensual."
The detectives reportedly later timed the length of Bryant's silence - captured on tape with a hidden recorder - such was their interest.
Winters is a 30-year-old Colorado native, born at Fitzsimons Army Medical Center in Aurora, the son of an Army military policeman. When he was 4 the family moved to Craig, where he was raised on his family's 10-acre farm.
An avid hunter and fisherman as a younger man, Winters earned a degree in wildlife biology at Colorado State University in 1995, with plans to become a game warden.
Instead, fate landed Winters in the fall of 1996 at the Eagle sheriff's department. He jumped from patrol deputy to detective in April 1999.
Four years later, a case dropped into Winters' lap which could very well end up being the biggest of his life, even if he remains a detective for another 25 years.
"I don't believe this is the climax to my career," said Winters, who commutes 45 minutes each day from his home in Garfield County. A self-described "homebody," he lives with his wife of five years, Chrissy, and their first child, 41/2-month-old son Joseph.
Winters, more a football enthusiast than basketball fan, nevertheless readily recognized Bryant's name when the alleged victim provided it during her first meeting with Winters at her home in Eagle on the afternoon of July 1.
But Winters vows his awareness of the suspect's celebrity never affected his handling of the case.
"But I'd be a fool to tell you that it didn't cross my mind," said Winters. "Obviously, I knew this was going to be a high-profile case, that there's going to be a lot of people interested in this case. But we still had a job to do and so we did it, and during that whole time we just maintained our professionalism and tried to be consistent with the way we do things."
Winters ignores stories about the case in the supermarket weeklies. He also does not go out of his way to read about it in the mainstream press - although if he happens upon a story, he'll read it.
The detective also has no regular contact with the alleged victim, but he's aware that a supermarket weekly has published her name and her picture, and that highly personal details of her life have been revealed.
And, he's aware that many have said the Bryant case is a textbook example of why many rape victims are reluctant to come forward.
"We don't want people to let a case like this, or like the Michael Jackson case, or the Scott Peterson case, inhibit people from coming forward. It shouldn't."
Winters shares the hope that has been expressed by the alleged victim's family, and by lawyers on both sides, that the case will soon come to trial.
"With all the attention it has been given, people want to see it resolved," said Winters. "And I'm no different from anyone else.
"I'd be a fool to say that I haven't stressed over this. I think anybody would.
"But, I think that's just part of life. That's just part of being human. I think everybody wants a resolution."
Personally i think constant media coverage of these trials is doing serious damage to what little integrity the courts still have.
Kobe waited 30 seconds before answering the question. I can think of many reasons for doing so, of which the most obvious is that you don't answer questions from a policeman without considering all the implications.
In fact, you don't answer questions from a policeman, period. You wait for your lawyer. If you are not guilty but find yourself in such a position, it's wisest to say nothing. Many trials turn on evidence hastily blurted out by the suspect.
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