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Sunday, March 3, 2024 | Back issues
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Bonds Case Goes to Jury

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - In closing arguments, federal prosecutors told jurors to ask themselves if baseball's home run king Barry Bonds had really been "unwittingly duped" by his personal trainer Greg Anderson into taking illegal steroids.

"That an athlete making $17 million a year wouldn't know what he was taking was implausible on its face," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Nedrow said. "Ask yourself whether your common sense allows you to believe that this powerful, successful, professional athlete could allow Greg Anderson to possibly be unknowingly dosing him with these drugs."

Nedrow said Bonds knowingly made false statements in 2003 to a federal grand jury about obtaining the designer steroid THG from Anderson, as well as injectable human growth hormone and substances used as masking agents for drug tests. Though Bonds received immunity for testifying, Nedrow says the ballplayer still chose to lie on the stand because he did not want to reveal the secret of his athletic prowess.

"It was a powerful secret: that he had been using anabolic steroids and testosterone, and that those illegal drugs had been part of his training regimen, and it would taint the accomplishments he had managed to achieve in his career," Nedrow said.

Nedrow said Bonds was deliberately evasive during questioning. "When he was asked about getting injected, the defendant tries to deny them or evade answering the question," the prosecutor said. "He can't and won't answer questions about injections because the truth is he was getting injected by Anderson."

Though Bonds had claimed that Anderson would "never jeopardize our friendship" by injecting him, Nedrow said that was "a shield [Bonds] uses again and again and again to evade telling the truth."

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston advised the jury that they must to consider whether Bonds' grand jury testimony was material to its investigation of Anderson and BALCO (Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative), and that Bonds knew it was material.

Defense attorney Allen Ruby said none of Bonds' grand jury testimony was material, and he that could not have misled or lied to the grand jury because the government never told him why he was testifying.

"It's fine for a lawyer to say Mr. Bonds must have known this or that," said the warm and charismatic Ruby, who handled the bulk of the defense's closing. "If there was no proof of materiality, beyond a reasonable doubt, there is no case. And there is no proof of materiality."

If Bond's relationship with Anderson was material to the grand jury, he would have been ordered in his subpoena to bring with him everything Anderson had given him, Ruby added.

Ruby also argued that prosecutors had never explained what they wanted, telling Bonds only that they were investigating charges against Anderson and BALCO president Victor Conte over the distribution of "illegal substances," but that was not explained to him. "How hard would it have been for them to say, in English, we are investigating the distribution of anabolic steroids? Do you think they forgot?" He added: "The prosecutors were being very cagey."

When Bonds asked prosecutors what "illegal substances" meant, Ruby said the government responded, "'Let's not get all legal about this,' or words to that effect." This elicited disapproving groans from Bonds' friends and family.

Ruby also said the government was "petty" in going after Bonds, that they tried to intimidate him during his grand jury testimony by having two prosecutors "tag team" Bonds with questions.

Another member of Bonds' legal team, Cristina Arguedas, attacked the prosecution's investigative methods and witnesses. "The evidence in the case is way below belief and to a great extent was rendered that way before you were ever sworn as jurors," Arguedas said.

She noted the government's "conflict of interest" in making Bonds' former best friend and business partner, Steve Hoskins, one of their witnesses, even though Hoskins was himself under investigation for allegedly stealing from Bonds.

"Are they going to treat Barry Bonds as a victim of theft and fraud by Stevie Hoskins, or are they going to treat Hoskins as a witness while they go after they very high-profile Barry Bonds?" she asked

Arguedas said former girlfriend Kimberly Bell had perjured herself before the grand jury when she testified about the size of Bonds' testicles, and that prosecutors had tried to rehabilitate that testimony last week because they hoped to use her testimony to prove that Bonds was taking steroids.

"She admitted that it was perjury," Arguedas said. "Nedrow got up and said, 'It was awkward for you.' She says: 'At the time I was searching for a way to describe. It was hard to put into words it was hard to talk about it at all.' This is a person who posed for Playboy, and described his testicles as shrunken, and went on 'Howard Stern,' and they're saying the perjury was OK because it was awkward. The prosecution, in its zeal to go after Barry Bonds, will forgive everything including perjury if that person is willing to say something bad about Barry Bonds."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Parrella defended Bell against Arguedas, saying Bell was telling the truth about seeing Bonds and Anderson go into a room together, and seeing Anderson emerge with a syringe.

"All they could do was mock Kim Bell," Parrella said. "All they could do was snicker at her and rage at her. But throughout the course of that whole examination she never changed her story. She told the truth about what she observed."

He added that Bonds' defense team had disrespected Bell by shouting at her and berating her during cross-examination. "Witnesses are entitled to be treated with a certain amount of respect, not have exhibits thrown at her, not be shouted at," Parrella said. "The only witness the defense treated with anger was Kim Bell."

The jury was handed the case shortly before 4 p.m. They went home for the evening and will begin deliberations today (Friday).

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