Man Charged With Solicitation To Murder Bryant's Accuser
Another Man Awaiting Trial In Telephoned Death Threat Case
5:36 AM, Sep 22, 2003
Prosecutors charged a Swiss bodybuilder
Monday with solicitation of murder for allegedly offering to kill
the Colorado woman who accused Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant
Patrick Graber, 31 (pictured, left), also was charged with solicitation to
dissuade a witness, the district attorney's office said.
Prosecutors recommended bail be kept at $1 million.
Graber appeared before Superior Court Judge Paula Adele Mabrey
at the Airport Branch courthouse but his arraignment was continued
to Sept. 29. He said only "Yes," when the prosecutor asked if he
agreed to the delay. No plea was entered and he remained in
If convicted of the two felonies, Graber would face up to nine
years and eight months in state prison, the district attorney's
Defense attorney Peter Knecht said he needed time to work on a
bail motion and a response to a motion by the prosecution seeking a
hearing to determine the source of any bail money. Knecht said he
also needed time to see evidence.
Asked why he wants a hearing on the source of any bail, Deputy
District Attorney Ralph Shapiro said, "In this particular case you
want to be certain that bail comes from an appropriate source."
Graber's wife, Gilliane, was present in court. Knecht said she
is a U.S. citizen.
Outside court, Knecht described his client as "a little bit
naive and not very swift."
"He is not the most intelligent guy in the world," the
Authorities identified Graber as a Swiss national with an
expired visa who worked as a bodybuilding coach at a local gym.
Knecht said Graber came to the United States two years ago
hoping to become an actor, but was working as a trainer and
recently was certified as a helicopter pilot.
Graber's visa expired two weeks ago and he has immigration
attorneys working on that, Knecht said.
"This just blew him away," Knecht said of the criminal case.
"He didn't think he was doing something this important."
Graber was arrested Thursday in suburban El Segundo by
undercover sheriff's investigators who had met with him previously
and set up a sting in a supermarket parking lot. Detectives said
Graber wanted $3 million to carry out the plan and had arranged to
pick up a $1 million payment.
The investigation began Sept. 8 when Bryant's security staff
reported receiving a letter offering to solve the basketball
player's problem. The letter was signed "Yuri." Investigators
said Graber claimed to have ties to Russian organized crime.
Knecht dismissed that allegation as "ridiculous" and asserted
that "this is unorganized crime, not organized crime."
The letter was sent via FedEx and investigators traced it to
Graber, Knecht said, describing its message as "I can solve your
problems, call me."
The defense attorney said it would be hard for prosecutors to
prove that Graber had the intent and means to carry out a crime. He
noted that Graber has one prior conviction, for fraud, in
The two-count filing Monday was narrower than what the district
attorney's office described last week. On Friday the prosecutor's
office said it planned to file an eight-count case.
"I think these are the appropriate charges," Shapiro said
Graber is the second man arrested in connection with the case.
John Roche, of Iowa City, Iowa, is awaiting trial in federal
court in Denver after pleading innocent this month to leaving a
profanity-laced death threat on the accuser's answering machine in Eagle, Colo. He
remains free on a $250,000 unsecured bond.
Bryant's accuser has since moved from Eagle to an undisclosed location in Colorado.