SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – After three days of deliberations and a trial spanning almost three weeks, a jury on Wednesday convicted Giants legend Barry Bonds of one count of obstruction of justice.
Jurors found that the home-run king had failed to adequately answer questions from a grand jury during its 2003 investigation of Bonds’ former trainer, Greg Anderson, and the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO).
“He was evasive throughout his testimony,” one juror said. The panel remained deadlocked on the three counts of making false statements with which Bonds was also charged. The verdict was handed down shortly after 2 p.m.
Bonds was indicted in 2007 for telling the grand jury he had never knowingly taken illegal steroids, and that Anderson had never injected him with testosterone or human growth hormone.
Though federal investigators gave Bonds immunity in exchange for his testimony about Anderson and BALCO, they said Bonds had been deliberately misleading because he was hiding a “powerful secret” that would have tainted his athletic accomplishments. Anderson, who had also served time for illegally distributing performance-enhancing drugs, spent the trial sitting in jail for his refusal to testify. He was released on Monday.
In the transcript of his grand jury testimony, Bonds made rambling statements about his father and being “a celebrity child” when asked by prosecutors if Anderson had ever given him steroids.
Last week, the jurors had asked to review transcripts of a recorded conversation between Bonds’ former business manager and Anderson about steroids, as well as the testimony of Kathy Hoskins, who said she saw Anderson inject Bonds in the stomach in 2003.
At the time, Bonds had allegedly told Hoskins it was “a little something, something for when I go on the road. You can’t detect it. You can’t catch it.”
The Anderson recording was played for the jury last Friday, and jurors heard Kathy Hoskins’ testimony read aloud in court on Monday. Both the tape and the testimony were crucial to the prosecution’s case.
A slew of government witnesses included Bonds’ former mistress, Kimberly Bell, and his former best friend and business manager, Steve Hoskins. But the testimony of Bonds’ orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Arthur Ting, may have been the most damaging to the government’s case. Ting told the court that he never discussed steroids with Hoskins and never told Hoskins that steroids caused Bonds to injure his elbow.
Hoskins had testified that he and Ting had talked at length about the subject, and that he had recorded one conversation but couldn’t find it. Though the tape mysteriously surfaced one day before the prosecution rested, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston ruled it couldn’t be played in court.
Bonds’ defense team had tried to show the jury that each government witness had a personal vendetta against the ballplayer, arguing that Hoskins and Bell conspired with prosecutors to impugn his character. Defense attorney Cristina Arguedas attacked Bell’s credibility repeatedly, saying that Bell had perjured herself before the grand jury by testifying that Bonds’ testicles had shrunk substantially.
She also said Bell had committed mortgage fraud by lying on an application to qualify for a loan. “The prosecution in its zeal to go after Barry Bonds will forgive everything including perjury and mortgage fraud if that person is willing to say something bad about Barry Bonds,” Arguedas said in closing last week.
Bonds had also accused Hoskins of stealing from him, and his lawyers said the government temporarily reprieved the ex-manager from fraud and theft prosecution in exchange for his testimony against the home run champ. Bonds’ lawyers underscored that fact repeatedly as Hoskins’ sole motivation for taking the stand. “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,” Arguedas asked, regarding prosecutors.
The government must decide by May 20 if it wants to pursue the remaining charges. “We will decide whether to seek a retrial of the defendant on the remaining counts as soon as possible and will inform the court and counsel as soon as we make our decision,” U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said in a statement.
Bonds’ defense attorney Allen Ruby told Illston he would fight the obstruction-of-justice conviction.
Though each count against Bonds carries a maximum 10-year penalty in federal prison, Illston has not indicated that she will sentence Bonds to any jail time, and may give him house arrest.