SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Barry Bonds' defense lawyer accused federal prosecutors of hiding exculpatory evidence again Thursday, after one of the government's star witnesses made a shocking disclosure on the stand.
Dr. Arthur Ting, Bonds' orthopedic surgeon, testified that he never spoke about anabolic steroids with Bonds' former best friend, Steve Hoskins. Ting also denied having said steroid use caused Bonds to injure his elbow.
This testimony directly refutes statements Hoskins gave to the grand jury and to the court last week. Hoskins, who grew up with Bonds in the Bay Area in the 1970s, testified that he had 50 conversations with Ting about anabolic steroids at Bonds' request. He said that the doctor told him that Bonds' tendon injury, which required elbow surgery, was caused by anabolic steroid use.
After the jury left the courtroom, Bonds' attorney said Ting's disclosure blew a hole in the government's perjury case against the former Giants slugger and should have been revealed earlier.
"The government continually fails in its obligation to provide us with exculpatory information," Cristina Arguedas said to U.S. District Judge Susan Illston. "You have to do something as the overseer of this court."
Arguedas also exchanged verbal blows with Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Nedrow, claiming that the government's failure to turn over important witness information has hurt Bonds' defense.
Ting testified that Hoskins came to his office in 1999 and asked for literature on the relationship between tendon injuries and steroids. Ting said he provided the information but that the ballplayer's then business partner never specifically told him Bonds was taking anabolic steroids.
Ting also said he and Hoskins never discussed a basketball player who had injected himself with steroids in the leg, which also refuted Hoskins' testimony.
Nedrow, the prosecutor, pointed out that Ting told a federal grand jury in 2007 that he could not remember the conversations. He contended that just because Ting could not remember the conversations does not mean they did not happen.
"Dr. Ting repeatedly said, 'I don't have a clear recollection,' and Steve Hoskins obviously had a very good recollection," Nedrow said.
Ting, however, firmly stated on the stand on Thursday that he never had the discussions with Hoskins. He did say he injected Bonds with several legal corticosteroids like prednisone and dexamethasone to help him recover from his surgery. Such corticosteroids have anabolic-like side effects, including acne, weight gain and sexual dysfunction. The doctor also testified that he witnessed Harvey Shields, one of Bonds' trainers, using flaxseed oil on Bonds at his house.
A red-faced Arguedas argued the government must have known the conversations never took place during pre-trial interviews with Ting, and that anything Ting said would have been "Brady" material. This marks the second time Arguedas has accused the government of withholding potentially exculpatory evidence in violation of the Supreme Court's landmark 1963 case, Brady v. Maryland.
If the government had provided this information to Bonds earlier, the perjury case may never have made it to trial, Arguedas argued. "The failure of the government to recognize what is Brady and what isn't is actually shocking," Arguedas said, adding that it may have been a calculated move by the government to not question Hoskins about his conversations with Ting on direct examination.
"I believe they avoided that because they knew that Ting would impeach him, and I think that is significant," Arguedas said.
The judge pressed the issue further. "Mr. Hoskins has some pretty inflammatory things to say about Dr. Ting, and, if what Mr. Hoskins said to Dr. Ting was true, Dr. Ting's reputation and security as a doctor would be at risk," Illston said. "You must have asked him."
Nedrow countered that Arguedas had plenty of opportunities to point out the inconsistencies between Ting's and Hoskins' testimonies during her cross-examination. Arguedas repeatedly interrupted Nedrow, prompting the prosecutor to raise his voice. "Excuse me," he said, waving his hand. "I didn't interrupt you. Please let me finish my point."
Arguedas appeared skeptical about Nedrow's claim that Ting refused to meet with the government before his grand jury testimony.
"That is very unusual," the defense attorney said. "He was a witness about a lot of important things. The only thing we've ever had is his grand jury testimony. You would never know from this grand jury testimony that Dr. Ting had said, 'I don't remember 50 conversations with Hoskins, I don't remember a conversation about a basketball player shooting himself in the leg, or particular conversations about certain steroids.' Unquestionably, the government heard it from him."
Nedrow rejected the argument. "Ting said again and again in his grand jury testimony that he didn't remember the conversations with Steve Hoskins but [that] they might have occurred," Nedrow said. "The defense is fully aware of the areas of inconsistency."
After the break, Arguedas said she had discovered there was a three-hour meeting between Ting and prosecutors in May 2006, and that Nedrow was in attendance. Arguedas said she plans to file a written request for all information Dr. Ting provided to prosecutors prior to his grand jury testimony.