One count dropped, Bonds defense rests

One count dropped, Bonds defense rests

One count dropped, Bonds defense rests
SAN FRANCISCO -- The prosecution dismissed one of the four charges of lying under oath against Barry Bonds as his federal trial continued Wednesday, and the defense pulled a bit of a surprise when it opted to rest its case without calling any witnesses.

With both cases resting, the two legal teams scheduled a conference to establish jury instructions, and Judge Susan Illston sent the jury home for the remainder of the day. Closing arguments will take place when the trial resumes Thursday morning.

At the outset of Wednesday's proceedings, Assistant U.S. District Attorney Jeffrey Nedrow informed Judge Illston that Count Four of the indictment against Bonds was being dropped, a revelation that came after Illston announced that she was denying defense motions on other issues.

Bonds, the all-time leader in home runs and a seven-time Most Valuable Player, now is facing three counts of making false statements and one count of obstruction of justice. The charges are based on his Dec. 4, 2003, testimony before the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative Laboratory (BALCO) grand jury in which he denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs.

Count Four related to a question Bonds was asked before the BALCO grand jury that inquired as to whether he had, prior to the 2003 season, taken "anything that [trainer Greg Anderson] asked you to take, other than vitamins?" The defense contended that the prosecution presented no evidence that Bonds had taken the "clear" and the "cream" -- the synthetic steroid THG and testosterone cream that became the center of the BALCO investigation -- prior to 2003. The defense conceded that Bonds admitted to the grand jury to taking those substances in 2003, although he testified that he believed they were flaxseed oil and arthritis balm, but never admitted to using the substances previously.

Defense attorney Allen Ruby had said Tuesday that his team's line of witnesses to be called beginning Wednesday would include two Internal Revenue Service agents as well as Harvey Shields, Bonds' conditioning trainer, and Laura Enos, Bonds' business attorney. Ruby mentioned that perhaps even Bonds himself would take the stand.

But Ruby stood up at the podium and told Illston that the defense would rest after a portion of Kimberly Bell's testimony before the Bonds grand jury was read to the trial jury. Defense attorney Cristina Arguedas read a portion of that testimony in which Bell claimed authorship of her diary, an attempt to make Bell's testimony at this trial, in which she claimed author Aphrodite Jones had contributed to the diary, appear inconsistent.

After that, Ruby stood at the podium again.

"Thank you, your honor. The defense rests," Ruby said.

The defense also was expected to recall prosecution witness Steve Hoskins to the stand in hopes of further impeaching his earlier testimony. The defense had initially planned to enter into evidence a recording of Hoskins and Enos, and would have needed to recall Hoskins to do so. But Ruby announced before the defense rested that they would not recall Hoskins.

Presented with four motions by the defense Tuesday afternoon, Illston said she was inclined to deny three of them, including one to have her dismiss the charges because the prosecution had not made its case.

Illston had said she was inclined to grant a defense motion to strike a portion of the secretly recorded conversation between Hoskins and trainer Greg Anderson that was entered into evidence during Hoskins' time on the witness stand. But on Tuesday morning, she told attorneys that she was persuaded by the government's written response to the motion and denied it.

The other motions that she said she was inclined to deny -- and did Wednesday -- were one attempting to exclude the testimony of other professional athletes and another moving to strike expert and lay testimony about the side effects of performance-enhancing drug use, except for perhaps Kimberly Bell's testimony about testicular shrinkage. But she wound up denying that motion, keeping that testimony in the case.

Upon the defense resting, Illston reminded the jury that deliberations had not yet begun, and won't until after the two sides give their closing arguments.

"Don't make up your minds," Illston said.

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