Bryant Rape Trial

To Begin in September

DENVER -- Kobe Bryant's trial on a rape charge is likely to begin in early September, court officials said, after the presiding judge ordered potential jurors to appear at the Eagle, Colo., courthouse on Aug. 27 to fill out questionnaires.

The Los Angeles Lakers guard has pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of sexual assault stemming from an incident last June 30 with a 19-year-old clerk at a resort hotel in the Colorado mountains. If convicted, Bryant faces penalties ranging from strict probation to life imprisonment.

Colorado court spokeswoman Karen Salaz said the judge hopes to start the actual trial just after Labor Day. But some lawyers following the case said jury selection could take weeks, delaying the start of the case.

Meanwhile, a court reporter accidentally released transcripts of a closed-door hearing on the accuser's sex life, setting off a First Amendment battle between the judge and news organizations that received the documents.

Colorado District Judge Terry Ruckriegle issued an order late Thursday threatening contempt of court if the material was published. The news organizations that received the transcripts contended the order was unconstitutional, but none immediately reported on any of the material.

The organizations said they will appeal the order to the Colorado Supreme Court on Monday.

* FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. -- The Border Patrol launched an unmanned drone Friday that uses thermal and night-vision equipment to help agents spot illegal immigrants trying to cross the desert into the United States. The stepped-up surveillance is part of an effort to stem the tide of illegal immigrants that have made Arizona the busiest illegal entry point along the 2,000-mile border with Mexico.

* DETROIT -- A man was charged in a shooting that injured nine people during a fireworks show, and police were looking for a second man who they said had "some involvement." Daron T. Caldwell, 32, of Detroit, pleaded not guilty to charges of assault with intent to murder, use of a firearm in a felony and possession of a firearm by a felon.

* NEW YORK -- A former narcotics detective pleaded guilty to a federal drug conspiracy charge, telling a judge that he led a group that stole millions of dollars worth of cocaine and resold it on city streets. Thomas Rachko said he was the leader of least five people who stole 100 kilograms of cocaine between 1998 and 2003. At least seven other police officers have been implicated in the case, the NYPD's worst corruption scandal in a decade. Rachko could face from 21 to 27 years in prison.

* DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke University Health System reached a settlement with the family of a Mexican teenager who died after receiving a heart-lung transplant of an incompatible blood type. William J. Fulkerson, the chief executive officer of Duke University Hospital, said the settlement with the family of Jesica Santillan was sealed and neither the hospital nor Santillan's family is allowed to discuss it.

-- From News Services and Staff Reports