Man Charged With Solicitation To Murder Bryant's Accuser

Another Man Awaiting Trial In Telephoned Death Threat Case

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 of rape.

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 custody.

If convicted of the two felonies, Graber would face up to nine years and eight months in state prison, the district attorney's office said.

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 attorney said.

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 Switzerland.

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 Monday.

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.

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