MLB: Bonds’ perjury trial taking shape
The Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Barry Bonds’ former personal trainer is facing prison and a judge admitted a trove of evidence while the admissibility of still more hangs in the balance after a pivotal hearing in federal court Tuesday, three weeks before the slugger’s trial is scheduled to start.
Bonds also renewed his not guilty plea, which was made necessary when prosecutors revised the charges for the third time since the initial indictment was unsealed in November 2007. Bonds is charged with four counts of making false statements to a grand jury and one count of obstruction of justice. There was little doubt what Bonds’ plea was going to be Tuesday and that the case was going to trial March 21 after Bonds’ legal team and prosecutors last month told U.S. District Judge Susan Illston that there was little chance of a plea agreement.
Likewise, there was no doubt that Bonds’ former personal trainer, Greg Anderson, would tell the judge Tuesday that he has no intention of taking the stand as a government witness during the trial. Anderson made a similar pledge in 2009 before Bonds’ trial was put on hold until a government appeal was resolved in Bonds’ favor.
Anderson has previously spent more than a year in prison on contempt charges after refusing to testify before the grand jury investigating Bonds.
The judge said that prosecutors and Bonds’ legal team both want Anderson to testify. She said his testimony would spare his former clients, including several retired major league players, from being called to the witness stand to discuss how he supplied them with steroids. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Ned row said he wants to use that evidence to support their position that Bonds was lying when he claimed “he was unwittingly duped by Mr. Anderson” into believing he was taking legal supplements.
“Much of that testimony would be unnecessary” if he testified, Illston told Anderson.
Illston then told Anderson that she planned to find him in contempt of court and will order him jailed during the duration of the trial, which is expected to last at least two weeks. Anderson simply nodded his head when the judge asked if he intended to follow through on his vow of silence.
“He’s taking not testifying to the nth degree,” said Mark Geragos, Anderson’s attorney.
Illston ordered Anderson to return to court March 22, when she plans to order him jailed.
After Anderson left the courtroom, the lawyers got down to highly technical arguments over what evidence will be presented to the jury.
The judge ruled that the jury may hear, among other pieces of evidence:
– That prosecutors granted Bonds immunity from prosecution as long he testified truthfully about his drug use before the grand jury.
– Bonds’ former personal shopper, Cathy Hoskins, testifying about Bonds’ relationship with a Playboy model.
– Bonds’ personal surgeon, Dr. Arthur Ting, and former girlfriend Kim Bell testifying that Bonds mistreated them, including Bell allegedly witnessing violent outbursts.
But the admissibility of other evidence must still be determined.
Bonds attorney Cris Arguedas objected to Bell telling the jury about an incident where Bonds allegedly grabbed her by the throat and threatened her life. Arguedas denied the incident occurred, but argued that even if it did happen, such testimony would unfairly bias the jury against Bonds.
“It’s an act of domestic violence,” Arguedas said. “It has an incendiary effect on the jury.”
Ted Cassman, another Bonds attorney, objected to Bell testifying that she witnessed Bonds’ testicles shrink during their time together. He said that such an allegation is difficult to prove scientifically and would bring an unnecessary “circus-like” atmosphere to the trial.
Illston didn’t respond in court to the latest objections and will issue a written ruling later.
Each count against Bonds carries a potential sentence of 10 years in prison. However, federal sentencing guidelines for a first offense on these charges generally call for a total sentence of 15 to 21 months.