Key witness McNamee set to take stand

Key witness McNamee set to take stand

Key witness McNamee set to take stand
WASHINGTON -- The wait is just about over for anyone wanting the federal case against Roger Clemens to get to the heart of the matter, and based on Judge Reggie Walton's comments last week, that includes the jury deciding the case.

When court reconvenes on Monday, the fifth week of the federal perjury trial of Clemens -- the former star pitcher who won a record seven Cy Young Awards in his 24-year career -- will focus on the key witness who provided evidence the government is relying upon heavily to gain a conviction.

Brian McNamee, the chief accuser who claims he knows that Clemens used performance-enhancing drugs because he injected him with them on numerous occasions, is due to take the stand on Monday. The defense has called McNamee "the only person in the entire world who has ever said that he witnessed Mr. Clemens use steroids or human-growth hormone at any time in his storied career" in several court filings.

Granted, McNamee's appearance has been pushed back twice since prosecutors first gave an indication of when he might appear, but his turn on the witness stand is imminent and palpable in the proceedings. McNamee, Clemens' former strength-and-conditioning trainer, has already been very much a central figure in the trial before he has set foot in the courtroom.

That's due in large part to the physical evidence McNamee turned over to the government in 2008 that has been examined in great detail upon being introduced through government exhibits in the trial. The evidence: vials and glass containers called ampules of steroids and human-growth hormone; used and unused needles and syringes consistent with the use of both substances; and three stained cotton balls, including one with three apparent blood spots -- all of which McNamee kept in a 16-ounce beer can for about seven years after he said he used the materials to inject Clemens.

Or, as the defense -- which no doubt spent the weekend pacing in anticipation of finally confronting Clemens' accuser -- has called the evidence in open court, "the garbage" or "the stuff."

McNamee and the evidence indeed are at the heart of this case, for it is McNamee's assertion that he injected Clemens on numerous occasions in 1998, 2000 and '01 with performance-enhancing drugs. McNamee told Congress that in '08 after telling federal agents under an agreement to cooperate with them and the investigators for the Mitchell Report on performance-enhancing drug use, both in '07. However, McNamee did not turn over the physical evidence until January 2008, one month before Clemens is alleged to have committed federal crimes by denying he took steroids or HGH.

Clemens is not charged with using the substances but rather for lying to Congress during a Feb. 13, 2008, hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and a Feb. 5, 2008, deposition conducted by committee staff members. Clemens is charged with three counts of making false statements, two counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of Congress made up of 15 different alleged obstructive acts, only one of which must be proven to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt to gain a conviction.

McNamee, who personally trained Clemens for the better part of a decade and served as strength-and-conditioning coach for the Blue Jays and assistant strength-and-conditioning coach for the Yankees, arrived at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia last Wednesday, dressed in a red golf shirt. McNamee departed the courthouse that afternoon without entering the courtroom as Clemens was sitting at the defendant's table, listening to some of the 12 witnesses brought by the government thus far and cross-examined by his defense team.

Before McNamee testifies, Walton will rule on motions from lawyers of McNamee and Eileen Taylor-McNamee, his ex-wife, to quash a 13-point subpoena issued by Clemens' defense team for access to documents from the couple's divorce proceedings, which the motions both state are confidential in New York state. The subpoena asks for documents that would relate to Clemens, including any bias against Clemens or references to Clemens' alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs and the trial itself, as well as documents relating to McNamee's distribution of PEDs, addiction to controlled substances and alcohol, absence from the couple's house where he kept the evidence, criminal conduct and "moral turpitude."

With Walton warning attorneys last week about the pace of the trial, the case has plodded at times through the first three weeks of testimony following a weeklong jury-selection process that impaneled 16 Washington, D.C., area residents. That panel is now down to 15 after a 27-year-old unemployed man, who said during jury selection that he'd "rather be sleeping" than be selected to the panel, was dismissed for sleeping during the trial and being tardy. Among the 15 are the 12 jurors who will decide the case and three alternates, although none of them knows his or her status. They have now been serving for 14 court days, including the selection process that took up the first week.

The second week was shortened to two days but included opening statements from both sides and the beginning of testimony from Congressional staffer Phil Barnett, who as staff director for the majority was instrumental in the committee investigation and had to defend the legitimacy of the hearing on cross-examination. The trial's third week featured testimony from Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte, who told Congress that Clemens told him of HGH use in a conversation prior to the 2000 season but then agreed with defense attorney Michael Attanasio when Attanasio suggested he's "50-50" on whether he heard Clemens correctly.

The fourth week included the conclusion of testimony from federal agent Jeff Novitzky, a key figure in the government's investigation of performance-enhancing drugs over the last decade, followed by Federal Bureau of Investigation case agent John Longmire, who has led the investigation since the indictment. The week included Walton raising his voice and telling lawyers from both sides that the pace of the trial was "boring the jury," and the week finished with compelling testimony from steroids dealer Kirk Radomski -- who identified the physical evidence as having come from him -- and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, who made it clear it was Clemens' idea to hire McNamee on the Yankees staff after the 1999 season but also delivered under cross-examination testimony about the circumstances relating to the Yankees refusing to renew McNamee's contract after instances of misbehavior on and off the job in 2001.

And it all comes together on Monday with the expected appearance of McNamee on the stand as the fifth week of the Clemens trial begins.

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