Barry Bonds lied when he testified he never used steroids, prosecutor says
"The defendant was given immunity,” Assistant U.S. Atty. Matthew Parrella told the jury. “All he had to do was tell the truth. That’s all he had to do, was tell the truth, but he couldn’t do it. And the evidence will show that he planned not to do it.”
Parrella told the jurors that he will present evidence that will show Bonds was taking steroids before his grand jury appearance and had told others of his steroid use. The prosecutor said Bonds claimed to grand jurors that he believed the substances he was taking were flaxseed oil and arthritis cream.
“Quite frankly, an utterly ridiculous and unbelievable story,” Parrella said.
U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston sustained a defense objection to that remark.
Bonds watched Parrella with a solemn expression and occasionally took notes. At one point, one of the jurors yawned as Parrella explained the nature of anabolic steroids.
Bonds is being tried on one count of obstructing justice and three counts of making false statements to a grand jury in 2003 when he testified that he did not knowingly use steroids. A conviction on felony charges would likely impede Bonds’ election to the baseball Hall of Fame, at least in the near term.
Parrella also told the predominantly female jury that it would hear from Kimberly Bell, Bonds' former mistress. Parrella said Bonds' relationship with Bell started when Bonds was married to his first wife and carried over into his second marriage, about 10 years.
The prosecutor said Bell would testify that Bonds told her he was using steroids and suffered sexual dysfunction as a result of the drugs.
Bonds, who bested Henry Aaron and Babe Ruth for most career home runs, has not played since 2007, when he was indicted. No team wanted to hire him after the Giants let him go.
A jury of eight women and four men were chosen Monday to hear the case. Two alternate jurors are women.
The jury includes an older man who said he opposed the congressional hearings into steroid use as a waste of taxpayer money and a student who indicated she was a fan of the Oakland A's, the Giants’ cross-bay rival. Two jurors are African American women.
[Updated 12:08 p.m.: An attorney for home run king Barry Bonds told a federal jury today that Barry Bonds told the truth and “did his best” when he told a grand jury that he never knowingly used anabolic steroids.
Allen Ruby, the lead lawyer for Bonds, also told the jury that three key prosecution witnesses had reasons to dislike Bonds. Ruby argued that they had a falling out with Bonds and lost money when Bonds severed relationships with them.
Following Ruby’s statements, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston sent the jury out of the courtroom and ordered Greg Anderson, Bonds’ former trainer, to federal prison for refusing to testify. The government has charged that Anderson provided Bonds with illegal steroids and injected him with human growth hormones.
Illston said she hoped Anderson would change his mind and would keep him confined for contempt “until such time you will testify.” A lawyer for Anderson said he would appeal the decision to a federal appeals court.
During his opening statements, Ruby indicated that he would ask jurors to closely examine the exact words that Bonds used during his 2003 grand jury testimony.
“This is an alleged crime which took place in this building in a grand jury room with a stenographer who took down every word—thankfully,” Ruby said.
He said Bonds’ testimony did not conflict with laboratory tests of a 2003 Bonds urine sample taken by Major League Baseball and found to have contained banned drugs.
“Words are important,” Ruby said.
The defense attorney tried to discredit Kimberly Bell, Bonds’ former mistress and an anticipated prosecution witness. Ruby said Bell shopped a tell-all book about him and spoke to the media about him.
Steve Hoskins, Bonds' former business manager who also is expected to testify, was being investigated for counterfeiting Bonds’ signature when the government sought his assistance againt Bonds, Ruby said. The defense lawyer said Bonds’ had reported illegal activity by Hoskins to the FBI.]
--Maura Dolan in San Francisco
Photo: Former San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds leaves the courthouse following the jury selection portion of his perjury trial at the Phillip Burton Federal Building in San Francisco on Monday. Credit: Beck Diefenbach / Reuters