Kallas Remarks: Breaking Down The Barry Bonds Trial
By Steve Kallas
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Week two of the Barry Bonds trial begins today in federal district court in San Francisco. Below is a recap of the indictment and week one, as well as what can be expected today, with blockbuster testimony from Bonds’ former mistress, Kimberly Bell.
The indictment for this trial accuses Barry Bonds of five felonies: four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice. Perjury is usually a very difficult crime to prove; the government will have to show that someone like Bonds, in this case before the BALCO grand jury in December 2003, under oath (which he was for grand jury testimony), “knowingly [made] any false material declaration.”
For instance, the first perjury count was Bonds’ answer to a question about whether he took any steroids from his personal trainer, Greg Anderson. Bonds’ answer: “Not that I know of.” If you have followed the BALCO case, you know what defense is coming: Bonds took something his trainer gave him, but he thought it was “flaxseed oil” or “arthritis cream.” If he was injected, he certainly didn’t know that he was being injected with steroids (see also the Roger Clemens case, where Clemens has steadfastly maintained that he was injected, but only with Vitamin B-12 shots, never with steroids).
So, as they started the trial, prosecutors had the difficult task of proving what was inside the (bigger?) head of Barry Bonds; that is, that he knew he was being injected with steroids or was rubbing the steroids the “cream” and the “clear” on his body.
WEEK ONE OF TRIAL
Well, after a jury was selected (eight women, two of whom are African-American, and four men), the first order of business for Judge Susan Illston was to (again) send the personal trainer of Barry Bonds, Greg Anderson, to jail for the remainder of the trial. Anderson, who many believe could convict Bonds with his testimony alone, has repeatedly refused to testify against his childhood friend and has already spent more than 14 months in jail for, among other things, refusing to testify in the BALCO grand jury. After refusing to testify in the Bonds trial, the judge sent Anderson back to jail on day one of the trial. He will remain in jail until the trial ends.
This refusal has caused the government problems with proving their case against Bonds, as things like doping calendars (with the initials “BB” on them – they allegedly set out the schedule for Bonds and his doping) and even several drug tests were barred by the judge from being shown to the jury as hearsay evidence (that is, out of court statements that are offered in court for the truth of the matter asserted).
Known as the guy who took down BALCO, Jeff Novitzky, then with the IRS but now with the Food and Drug Administration, was the first government witness. Novitzky, according to published reports, was a cool and calm witness who testified as to the history of his breaking of the BALCO case, as well as the “treasure trove” of drugs and documentation that he discovered that linked a number of athletes, including Bonds, to steroid use. Novitzky testified that he was present when items were seized from the house and car of Bonds trainer, Greg Anderson.
Viewed to be a key witness in terms of actually proving that Bonds knew what he was taking, Steve Hoskins testified, among other things, about a tape recording he had made of a conversation with Bonds trainer Greg Anderson that seems to have Anderson admitting that he did not inject Bonds in the same place on his body. Hoskins, a former Bonds friend and business associate, asks trainer Anderson, on the tape, if Bonds was injected in the butt all the time. Anderson’s answer on tape: “Oh, no, I never just go there. I shoot it all over the place.” Hoskins also asked Anderson on the tape if this was the same stuff that was used on Marion Jones (who, eventually, admitted her steroid use). Andersons answer: “Yeah.”
Hoskins also testified as to the fact that Barry Bonds told him that steroids shots “hurt his butt.” Hoskins did not, however, ever see Bonds get injected.
There was a withering cross-examination of Hoskins, by lead defense lawyer Allen Ruby, who had Hoskins confused at time. Once, Hoskins even mis-identified a voice on his own tape. In addition, Hoskins was painted as an embittered former business partner who stole from Barry Bonds.
Larry Bowers is an anti-doping expert who, essentially, testified to the side effects of using steroids, probably prepping the jury for the testimony of Kimberly Bell, among others. Bowers talked about things like testicle-shrinkage, acne on the back and hair loss as possible side-effects.
KIMBERLY BELL’S UPCOMING TESTIMONY
It is likely that one of the star witnesses against Barry Bonds, his former mistress, Kimberly Bell, will take the stand today. Ms. Bell is expected to testify to, among other things, the fact that, over the course of their relationship (1994-2003), the size of the testicles of Barry Bonds shrunk over time and that he had excess acne on his back and shoulders. Bell may also testify as to the fact that Barry Bonds told her about his steroid use.
This testimony could get graphic – and ugly. The defense is expected to paint Bell as the woman scorned, that she was furious that Bonds had stopped giving her money to pay for her house in Arizona and would happily lie to get back at Barry Bonds.
Well, of course, it’s too early to tell but, generally speaking, it is hard to get a perjury conviction. Although many view that the Bell testimony as to the side-effects of steroids on Bonds is important, it says here that it is not as important as any testimony about Bonds’ actual knowledge of taking steroids. Remember, Bonds’ lawyers may be, essentially, willing to admit that Bonds was injected, but not with steroids. If Kimberly Bell testifies that Barry Bonds told her that he did take steroids, well, that’s the kind of testimony needed to convict Barry Bonds. And, of course, that may or may not be believed by the jury. Therefore, it will be the cross-examination of Kimberly Bell and how well she holds up (or doesn’t hold up) under that cross that will be one of the keys to the trial.
The trial resumes today (Monday, March 28) in San Francisco.
Will you be following Bell’s testimony? Let us know in the comments below…