Jurors say Barry Bonds was evasive to grand jury
Home run king Barry Bonds was convicted Wednesday of obstruction of justice for impeding a grand jury investigation into illegal steroid distribution, closing a sordid chapter in a scandal that ensnared some of baseball’s greatest players.
Jurors said they concluded that Bonds had been evasive before the grand jury, but they disagreed on whether he had knowingly lied to the panel about using steroids or human growth hormones.
One juror, a 60-year-old engineer who identified himself as Steve, said he was glad that the trial had taken place because he has a daughter who plays soccer.
“I’d like to see a level playing field,” he said after the verdicts were read. The juror called the ballplayers who testified about their own drug use at the trial “true heroes. I believe there is one man who just couldn’t do it because of who he is.”
Other jurors questioned the government’s case against the athlete.
“I think the government feeling was they had a really big fish with Bonds and they wanted to finish what they started,” said jury foreman Fred Jacob, 56. “Maybe they tried a little too hard to make him guilty.”
The verdict against the former San Francisco Giants star capped a nearly seven-year probe that focused on Bonds’ denials under oath about knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs.
Bonds, 46, sat grim-faced when the verdict was read in a courtroom packed with reporters. The jury of eight women and four men, which began deliberating Friday morning, deadlocked on three counts of perjury.
The trial culminates an era that saw the reputations of some of the nation's top athletes tarnished by disclosures of steroid and other drug use and that forced professional sports to grapple with calls for reform.
The probe into Bonds began with an investigation into a Bay Area laboratory that was selling illegal steroids to professional athletes and expanded to include athletes suspected of lying to investigators. Bonds, holder of baseball’s hallowed record for most home runs, was the probe’s highest-profile quarry.
His career record stands at 762 home runs, surpassing Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth.
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-- Maura Dolan in San Francisco
Photo: Former baseball player Barry Bonds leaves federal court April 13, 2011 in San Francisco, after being found guilty of one count of obstruction of justice. The jury failed to reach a verdict on three other counts that the home run king lied to a grand jury when he denied knowingly using steroids and human growth hormone. Credit: Noah Berger / AP