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Bonds' trial begins in San Francisco

Bonds' trial on perjury charges begins in SF

Bonds' trial begins in San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds entered the Phillip Burton Federal Building and United States Courthouse shortly before 8 a.m. local time Monday, took the elevator to the 19th floor and entered Courtroom 10.

And when the packed courtroom rose as Judge Susan Illston entered at 8:36 a.m. PT, the trial of Case No. 3:07-cr-00732-SI, USA v. Barry Lamar Bonds began in earnest.

Bonds, the former star outfielder for the Giants and Pirates who in 2007 became baseball's all-time home run leader at the end of a 22-year Major League career, is charged with four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice. His long-awaited trial began Monday with a jury-selection process that took up most of the first day.

By the end of it, a jury of eight women and four men, along with two female alternates, was seated in Illston's courtroom, ready to begin a trial that is expected to take 3-4 weeks before the start of deliberations.

"Most of all what we were interested in was people who were going to feel comfortable following the instructions to pay attention only to the evidence as it is presented under the federal rules of evidence, and it seemed to us that these people were really ready to take that seriously and accomplish that," defense attorney Cristina Arguedas said outside the courthouse after the jury was selected.

Lawyers for the prosecution did not comment to the reporters gathered outside the courthouse after Monday's session.

Tuesday's session is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m., when Illston will swear in the jury, followed by opening statements from each side.

The case stems from Bonds' grand-jury testimony on Dec. 4, 2003, relating to the U.S. government's raid of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO), a firm that Bonds employed and one that is known to have produced performance-enhancing drugs used by several other prominent athletes.

The prosecution alleges Bonds lied to the grand jury when asked if he was ever given or was administered anabolic steroids, testosterone or human growth hormone with needles by personal trainer Greg Anderson during the period from 2000 to 2002. Bonds denied knowingly using performance-enhancing substances.

Dressed in a black suit and silver tie, Bonds sat at the defense table throughout the day as Illston ran through 10 general questions with prospective jurors, identified by a juror number and otherwise remaining anonymous, to query their eligibility to serve on the case.

Jurors already had filled out a questionnaire with 63 inquiries, many of which were general boilerplate ones that would apply to other trials. Several, however, were designed specifically to determine a potential juror's thoughts on the Bonds trial, including whether they follow sports, baseball specifically and the Giants in particular; if they had heard of other cases involving steroid use by athletes; and whether they were aware of the BALCO investigation, the Mitchell Report and other issues relating to performance-enhancing drugs.

While the remainder of the questions included normal bias issues, one more was specific to the case: Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Barry Bonds?

The last question, No. 63, asked whether jurors knew any of the attorneys or witnesses who might be called in the trial. That list included former Major League players Marvin Benard, Bobby Estalella, Jason Giambi, Jeremy Giambi, Armando Rios, Benito Santiago and Randy Velarde, and former Giants trainer Stan Conte, currently with the Dodgers.

After lunch, the attorneys had their turn. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Parrella introduced himself, colleague Jeffrey Nedrow and federal agent Jeff Novitzky, the chief investigator in the BALCO case, before addressing the potential jurors.

Lead defense counsel Allen Ruby asked the group whether they'd ever bought sports memorabilia in general and specifically from Steve Hoskins, Bonds' former business manager who is expected to testify for the prosecution. No one said they had memorabilia from Hoskins, although one has items from Bonds and another said her memorabilia is from the A's, the Giants' crosstown rival, drawing chuckles from the gallery.

Ruby also addressed the jury's ability to patiently hear everyone out, and whether any of them has used the phrase "the court of public opinion" before.

Now, the trial has reached the court of law that will decide Bonds' fate, and the jurors who will make that decision have been seated.

John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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