What was supposed to be a routine pretrial hearing in the civil suit against Kobe Bryant turned out to be anything but, when the woman accusing the Lakers star of raping her in June 2003 showed up at Denver federal courthouse Feb. 2—clutching the hand of her new husband and very visibly pregnant. "She wants to be involved," lawyer L. Lin Wood tells PEOPLE of his 20-year-old client, who had been living in Florida with her spouse, Eric Strobel, 23, whom she married last fall. "I think her presence at the hearing is a clear statement of her resolve to move forward with this civil case."
Still, it's no slam-dunk that the case will ever go to trial. Although the judge ordered Bryant to give a deposition under oath by the end of February, and Wood says his client's will follow, legal experts believe there could be a settlement after that. "How well people do in depositions, what statements get made, all affect the value of a settlement," says former Denver prosecutor Karen Steinhauser. "I'm sure there is information that neither side would prefer to have disclosed."
WHAT WILL MARTHA WEAR?
With her March 6 release date fast approaching, Martha Stewart is about to hop on what Alderson inmates call the "merry-go-round." That's a ritual where prisoners walk from department to department (education, records, medical) to get each to sign a prerelease report. Martha also faces a more creative challenge—finding a get-out-of-jail ensemble. Sent by a friend or relative, it can't cost more than $100 per item.
THE MURPHY BROWN MURDERER?
Friends and fans stunned by the death of Murphy Brown costar Robert Pastorelli, 49, last March from a heroin overdose have just been hit with an even bigger blow—at the time, he knew he was under investigation for the murder of his girlfriend, LAPD sources say. Though the March 1999 shooting of Charemon Jonovich, 25, in the couple's home was initially listed as due to "undetermined" causes, after further investigation her death was reclassified as a homicide last year. Factors cited by the coroner included "staging of the crime scene and scientific evidence the firearm was handled after discharge." Moreover, at the time of Pastorelli's death, police were close to arresting the actor, according to Inside Edition. "I don't believe it," says friend Chuck E. Weiss. "He would never kill anyone."