SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Federal prosecutors withdrew one of four perjury counts against Barry Bonds on Wednesday morning, just before the ballplayer's defense team rested without calling any witnesses.
On Tuesday, Bonds' attorneys said they planned to question two Internal Revenue Service agents and Bonds' business lawyer, Laura Enos. They also said they might call Steve Hoskins, Bonds' former best friend and business manager who testified for the prosecution two weeks ago. Hoskins' appearance outside the courtroom Wednesday further substantiated reports about his expected testimony.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Nedrow said the government planned to drop the perjury charge regarding Bonds' federal grand jury testimony about receiving two substances from his personal trainer colloquially referred to as "the cream" and "the clear." Bonds told the grand jury that trainer Greg Anderson had told him the clear was flaxseed oil, and that he accepted that description without question. He also testified that Anderson had never specified what the cream was, but told him it would help him recover from his grueling workouts. Both substances have been alleged to assist athletes in covering up steroid use on drug tests by raising and lowering testosterone levels to the right ratios.
U.S. District Judge Susan Illston dismissed the jury early today, saying deliberations could begin tomorrow. Onlookers who filled the courtroom on Wednesday, perhaps anticipating Bonds' own appearance on the stand, seemed disappointed that closing arguments would not happen that day, some shaking their heads and laughing ruefully.
Illston also denied several motions brought by the defense to strike federal witness testimony. "With respect to the motion to strike the testimony of other athletes, that's denied," Illston said. "With respect to the motion to strike testimony on effects of HGH, I've decided to deny that as well."
The judge also kept in evidence a recording Hoskins taped of his conversation with Anderson about Bonds' alleged steroid use. Bonds' defense lawyers also lost an attempt to bar the grand jury testimony of Bonds' one-time mistress, Kimberly Bell, about the size of Bonds' testicles. Prosecutors had said the statement proves that Bonds experienced one of the most notorious side effects of steroid use.
The defense requested three hours to make its closing arguments Thursday. Illston seemed inclined to let closing arguments fill the day. "If it's repetitive or duplicative, or becomes oppressive in some way, I'll let you know," she added.
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