Monday, March 21, 2011

US homer king Bonds goes on trial


By Marcio Jose Sanchez, AP
Barry Bonds arrives at the federal courthouse
 in San Francisco for the first day of his trial.

By Stephanie Rice (AFP)
SAN FRANCISCO — US home run king Barry Bonds faces perjury charges here Monday in a trial that will see testimony by a parade of baseball stars and an ex-girlfriend on his alleged use of performance enhancing steroids.
The former San Francisco Giants slugger, the target of a long-running federal probe, is alleged to have lied to a federal grand jury in 2003 when he said he never knowingly used banned drugs.
Bonds, 46, is charged with four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice. He has pleaded not guilty.
The trial is the culmination of a saga that began more than seven years ago with an Internal Revenue Service raid on BALCO headquarters in Northern California.
What started as a tax evasion case quickly became a full-blown investigation of performance-enhancing drugs at the highest levels, ensnaring elites in baseball, athletics and American football.
The witness list is a who's who of athletes tainted by the BALCO steroid scandal, players who say Bonds' trainer and childhood friend, Greg Anderson, provided them with designer drugs from the strip-mall steroids lab known as the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative.
Bonds has insisted that his legacy -- shattering Hank Aaron?s home run record and garnering a record-setting seven Most Valuable Player awards -- was not accomplished with deliberate cheating.
Bonds set the all-time Major League Baseball homer record of 762 in 2007, breaking Aaron's prior mark of 755. Bonds hit a one-season record of 73 homers in 2001.
Because Anderson has refused to testify, prosecutors will call half a dozen players -- including first baseman Jason Giambi, currently with the Colorado Rockies, and his brother, Jeremy Giambi, who last played for the Boston Red Sox -- to testify about their interactions with Anderson and BALCO drugs.
Bobby Estalella, a former Bonds teammate, is expected to testify about several discussions he had with Bonds about Bonds' use of performance-enhancing drugs, court records show.
Anderson, an admitted steroid dealer, has already spent more than a year behind bars for refusing to testify before a grand jury about Bonds and banned drugs. He will likely be jailed during this trial as well.
The trial is expected to last three to four weeks and should be ongoing when the Major League Baseball season starts on March 31.
Despite objections from the defense, Bonds ex-girlfriend Kimberly Bell will take the stand to talk about changes she says she observed in Bonds' personality and physical appearance during their nine-year relationship.
Bell has told investigators that Bonds admitted his steroid use to her. Court filings show Bell will tell jurors that Bonds became increasingly "angry, threatening and violent" during the relationship and that he also experienced "sexual dysfunction and testicular shrinkage" -- all side effects of steroid use, prosecutors contend.
Bonds attorneys will attempt to discredit Bell by cross-examining her about her decision to pose nude for Playboy after her relationship with the Giants slugger ended.
US District Judge Susan Illston has ruled that the jury will not be allowed to view the photos, and thrown-out a slew of evidence prosecutors wanted to present.
The jury will, however, hear a secretly recorded conversation in which Anderson discusses injecting Bonds with banned drugs.
Several others will be called to testify about Bonds' allegedly expanding physique. Shoe representatives from Fila and Nike will tell jurors about the slugger's changing shoe size.
Giants clubhouse manager Mike Murphy is expected to testify "as to the increase in the defendant's hat size," according to court documents.
By Stephanie Rice (AFP)

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