Defense rests in Barry Bonds perjury trial

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Apr 07 2011 02:14 PM | Updated as of Apr 07 2011 10:14 PM

SAN FRANCISCO – The defense in Barry Bonds' perjury trial rested on Wednesday -- without calling any witnesses -- after one of five charges against the famed slugger was dropped at the government's request.

The dropped perjury count dealt with Bonds telling a 2003 grand jury investigating steroids that he had never taken "anything" from his trainer before 2003.

The conversation involved the designer steroids known as "the cream" and "the clear" -- THG and a testosterone preparation.

US District Judge Susan Illston had indicated Tuesday she did not believe there was evidence that Bonds had taken the specific preparations during that time and that she might dismiss it.

Prosecutors argued at that point that the "anything" could refer to drugs other than those specific designer steroids. But the judge seemed skeptical, and on Wednesday, prosecutors dismissed the charge.

That leaves Bonds facing three counts of lying under oath and one count of obstruction of justice. All are a result of Bonds' 2003 testimony to the grand jury.

Prosecutors say the US home run king lied when he denied knowingly taking performance-enhancing drugs, and when he said that no one but his physician had ever injected him.

In closing arguments, which begin Thursday, the injection issue may prove to be the most difficult for the defense team.

Bonds' ex-personal shopper and childhood friend, Kathy Hoskins, told jurors she witnessed Bonds' trainer inject him in the navel in 2002.

She was the only witness to give an eyewitness account of Bonds' alleged drug use.

Defense lawyers have implied Hoskins was lying to back up her brother, Bonds' ex-business manager, who testified the former San Francisco Giants star was using steroids.

But on the stand, Hoskins tearfully insisted that she was only involved in the case because her brother, who had a bitter falling out with Bonds, had told government agents she saw the injection.

"He threw me under the bus and that's why I'm here," she said, crying.

If jurors believe Hoskins' account, they will have to find Bonds guilty of lying about never being injected by anyone other than his doctor.

The trainer, Greg Anderson, has been behind bars since the trial began for refusing to testify. After the defense rested Wednesday, his attorney requested that the judge release Anderson.

Prosecutors asked that he remain in custody.

"We would hope that there still might be some hope that he would come out and testify and tell the truth to the jury," Assistant US Attorney Merry Chan said.

There was no immediate ruling.

Illston also rejected requests from the defense to throw out several pieces of evidence, including testimony from Major League ballplayers who said they received performance-enhancing substances from Anderson.

Prosecutors hope jurors will infer that Anderson, who has pleaded guilty to steroid-dealing, gave Bonds the same drugs.

Over the objection of the defense, the jury of eight women and four men will also be allowed to consider testimony from an ex-girlfriend who said Bonds' testicles shrank -- a side effect of steroid use, the government contends.

Bonds, 46, set the all-time Major League Baseball homer record of 762 in 2007, breaking Hank Aaron's revered mark of 755.

Bonds hit a single-season record of 73 homers in 2001, but his links to BALCO, the lab involved in a steroid distribution scandal, made him a polarizing figure in baseball.

If convicted, Bonds could go to prison. However, in two other cases related to the BALCO scandal, Illston has been reluctant to impose prison time.

She sentenced Olympic cyclist Tammy Thomas to house arrest after she was convicted of lying about steroids to a grand jury.

Athletics coach Trevor Graham also received house arrest after he was found guilty of misleading investigators.

So far, star sprinter Marion Jones -- sentenced by a different federal judge -- has been the only athlete to receive prison time for lying during the government's steroids investigation.

Each side will get approximately three hours for closing arguments Thursday. The case will then be turned over to jurors for deliberation.