Bonds case goes to jury for deliberations

Bonds case goes to jury for deliberations

Bonds case goes to jury for deliberations
SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds' fate is now in the hands of a jury of eight women and four men who will decide whether he gave false testimony and obstructed justice when he appeared before the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative grand jury in 2003.

The two sides presented their closing arguments to the jury in Bonds' federal trial Thursday, and the people tasked with deciding the case were sent by Judge Susan Illston into deliberations that are to begin Friday morning with the election of a foreman.

Bonds, the Major Leagues' all-time leader in home runs and a seven-time Most Valuable Player, is standing trial on 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 BALCO grand jury in which he denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Nedrow gave the initial argument for the government, and he started out with a simple statement: "All he had to do was tell the truth."

In a presentation of approximately 90 minutes, Nedrow went on to tell the jury to use their common sense and reason to understand that Bonds did know what he was taking, not that he thought he was using flaxseed oil and arthritis balm.

"It's an account that's false on its face. It's implausible on its face," Nedrow said.

Allen Ruby presented the first portion of the defense closing, focusing on the charges and how the government was "cagey" in how it approached the case from the beginning. He contended Bonds wasn't fully informed as to the grand-jury proceedings' purpose and was "tag-teamed" by two prosecutors who tried to intimidate Bonds -- and failed to do so, in Ruby's estimation.

"A lot of the venom in the government's pursuit here is that he wasn't intimidated," Ruby said.

Ruby went through portions of the jury instructions Judge Illston read to the jurors prior to the arguments, saying the government had not met the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt on any of the charges against Bonds.

"In this case, the government has brought you no, no, zero evidence on an essential ingredient of this prosecution," Ruby said.

Co-defense counsel Cristina Arguedas went after specific evidence as being "unworthy of belief, way, way below reliability beyond a reasonable doubt." Ruby returned to the podium to conclude the defense presentation, which took approximately 2 1/2 hours.

Typical of their demeanor throughout the trial, the 6-foot-3 Ruby was generally gregarious in his presentation and Arguedas, who stands under 5 feet tall, came out swinging, pointing directly at the prosecutors and often shaking her head in disgust.

She noted that several points that were raised in opposition to some of the prosecution evidence were only brought out in cross-examination, accusing the government of not telling the whole story. One issue she raised was that Dr. Arthur Ting, Bonds' personal surgeon, testified in cross-examination that the corticosteroids such as prednisone he prescribed for Bonds throughout the years in question have many of the same side effects as anabolic steroids, such as bloating, hair loss and sexual dysfunction.

"They have all the same side effects they've spent all this time and money trying to tell you Barry had," she said.

The jury instructions noted of witnesses who received immunity for their testimony that "you should examine the testimony of these witnesses with greater caution than that of other witnesses." Seven of the 25 witnesses the government brought to the stand were granted immunity for their testimony: Steve Hoskins, Kimberly Bell, Kathy Hoskins and current or former Major Leaguers Jason Giambi, Jeremy Giambi, Marvin Benard and Randy Velarde.

Arguedas, who had vigorously cross-examined the former mistress Bell on the stand, reviewed how she brought out facts in cross-examination that Bell had apparently committed mortgage fraud. Also, in Arguedas' estimation, Bell perjured herself by changing her story from saying Bonds' testicles had shrunk by half at the grand jury and then admitting that was not the case at trial. On redirect, the prosecution had gotten Bell to suggest the discrepancy was because it was an awkward subject.

"This is a person who posed for Playboy and described his testicles as shrunken and went on Howard Stern," Arguedas said, her voice raising. "They're putting it to you that perjury is OK because it was awkward?"

As Ruby wrapped up the defense closing, he said the subject of Bonds' head growing by 1/8 inch, which the prosecution said was a sign of PED use, was "to use a legal term, stupid," adding later that it was "part of an effort to demonize Barry Bonds." Ruby also said that "blood is thicker than water" when it comes to Kathy Hoskins' damaging testimony that she saw trainer Greg Anderson inject Bonds in the abdomen, where human-growth hormone is typically administered. Count Two of the indictment against Bonds relates to Bonds saying no one other than a physician ever had injected him.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Parrella had the final word, inasmuch as the government has the burden of proof, and he responded to some of the claims the defense made in its presentation, including a critique of his own for the opposing side.

"They failed to argue really the only full, total, honest, sure, possible defense here. They never argued that Barry Bonds never took steroids," Parrella said, often pointing directly at Bonds during his presentation.

He also contended Kathy Hoskins was "absolutely consistent, rock solid, she saw what she saw" and that the professional baseball players who testified to receiving "the clear" (the designer drug THG) and "the cream" (testosterone cream) didn't think they were getting flaxseed oil or arthritis balm but powerful performance-enhancing drugs.

"Every athlete who took it knew what was in the clear and the cream," Parrella said. "That's why they took it."

Parrella closed his comments with a sharp barb directed at Bonds.

"There's a real irony to this case, and it's that these are substances that the defendant took to make himself strong," Parrella said. "He wasn't strong. He was weak. He went to the grand jury and he was too weak to tell the truth, despite the steroids."

The case was estimated to run 3-4 weeks, and Thursday wrapped up the third four-day week of the proceedings. If found guilty on any charge, Bonds faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, although federal sentencing guidelines suggest 15-20 months and earlier convictions of false testimony in the BALCO case had sentences of house arrest.

Once Illston sent the jury on its way and explained to the alternates what their role will be going forward, the two legal teams met in the middle of the courtroom and shook hands after a contentious day of arguments.

Bonds immediately left the courthouse with his associates. The next time he returns will be when the jury has decided the case.

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