Wives of McNamee, Clemens testify

Wives of McNamee, Clemens testify

Wives of McNamee, Clemens testify
WASHINGTON -- The 30th day of proceedings at the federal perjury trial of Roger Clemens began with Eileen McNamee on the stand continuing to contradict her estranged husband, the chief accuser in the case, and ended with Debbie Clemens testifying on behalf of her husband, the defendant.

The conclusion of McNamee's crucial appearance as a defense witness included emotional testimony Thursday morning about how her son's medical condition became part of a national story, and how she was furious with both Clemens and her husband about it, actually telling Brian McNamee she wanted him to "go after" Clemens for invading their son's privacy.

The beginning of Debbie Clemens' testimony, which lasted less than a half-hour before court went into recess for the day, included how the couple first started dating because of a found kitten and that she enjoyed the star pitcher's years in Boston, except that "the media can be very miserable."

The appearances of the women in the lives of the two main men involved in the trial represent the beginning of the end of the defense case, which, according to defense attorney Rusty Hardin, will conclude Friday before court goes into recess for the weekend at 1 p.m. ET.

Before Clemens' wife testified, Judge Reggie Walton made it crystal clear to her that because Hardin represents both her and her husband, there could be a conflict of interest. Further, he let her know there exists the possibility she could be subject to criminal charges based on what she says, a reference to anticipated testimony about her admitted use of human-growth hormone with the assistance of Brian McNamee. After meeting with Hardin in the hallway for a few minutes, she returned to the courtroom and agreed to testify under those conditions.

Roger Clemens, who won a record seven Cy Young Awards in a 24-year Major League career, is charged with three counts of making false statements, two counts of perjury and one count of obstruction for telling a Congressional committee that he never used steroids or human-growth hormone.

Brian McNamee testified before the same Congressional committee and at this trial that he injected Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs numerous times, saving evidence in a beer can and a mailing box after injecting Clemens in August 2001. Clemens testified that all McNamee injected him with was vitamin B12 and lidocaine.

Debbie Clemens told jurors the story of how she and Roger knew each other casually at the same high school for two years, lost touch when she switched schools as a junior and reconnected in January 1984. Her mother knew Clemens' mother might want to receive a kitten Debbie's family had found, but had to give away because she's allergic to cats. After they talked for about 45 minutes, a love affair ensued that wound up with Debbie and Roger Clemens marrying later that year.

That's when Clemens was just beginning his career with the Red Sox, and she testified the couple wanted to stay in Boston his entire career, if possible. She also said it wasn't always easy being in Boston when it came to the media attention on her husband.

"It was hard living a hero and a villain every other day in what they were creating," Debbie Clemens said.

That statement came at the end of her testimony for the day, and she'll return to the stand when court reconvenes Friday morning.

Meanwhile, the estranged wife of Brian McNamee, Clemens' former strength and conditioning coach, continued to maintain under cross-examination that she didn't know or even have an inkling until years later about what was in the mailing box she first found in the basement of her house in late 2001. Brian McNamee had testified he'd packed evidence implicating Clemens in the use of performance-enhancing drugs at her insistence in August 2001 after saving items to show her and ease their marital woes.

Under cross-examination from Assistant U.S. Attorney Courtney Saleski, Eileen McNamee wavered a bit on the exact timeline of when she did discover that her husband was providing performance-enhancing drugs to players and how she told the Federal Bureau of Investigation slightly different stories in two interviews. But she generally stuck to her account that she was not involved in saving the items.

She would not, however, go so far as to say -- as Hardin tried to elicit from her -- that her estranged husband would do anything to save himself, a theme the defense has put before the jury several times in relation to his accusations against Clemens.

"I don't know. I can't think for him. I don't know what he would do. I think anybody would do anything to save themselves," Eileen McNamee said, although the final sentence was stricken for being speculation.

The recorded phone conversation Brian McNamee had with Clemens was publicized via a news conference in which Clemens was defending himself against allegations of performance-enhancing drug use in the Mitchell Report, based on information provided by Brian McNamee.

During this trial, McNamee said the exposure of his son's illness was the impetus for him to collect the mailing box full of needles, vials and medical waste from his house -- where Eileen and the children lived, though he had moved out -- and eventually turn it over to federal authorities after which it became key evidence in the case against Clemens.

After needing a short break to compose herself when the subject first came up under cross-examination, Eileen McNamee said her son Brian Jr., who has juvenile diabetes, had undergone tests that did not go well, and that her husband had the recorded conversation with Clemens before he'd returned her voicemail to discuss the matter. It turned out the son's condition wasn't life-threatening even though Brian McNamee implied that during the phone conversation with Clemens.

"Brian didn't bother to call me back. He called Roger, and he told Roger [my son's] dying," Eileen McNamee said. "Now [my son] hears on TV that he's dying. Now my son thinks he's dying."

Saleski asked if she was shocked when the information was revealed on television. "And furious," Eileen McNamee said. When Saleski asked if she was "mad, mad, mad" at her husband, she said, "I was mad at Mr. McNamee and Mr. Clemens."

Saleski brought out that on a voicemail she left for her husband that she wanted Brian McNamee to "go after" Clemens. Asked later in a question from a juror what she meant by "go after" Clemens, she said, "I didn't care. I just didn't want him getting away with the situation with my son. I didn't care what he did."

Eileen McNamee said that Hardin actually took responsibility for the taping and broadcast of the phone call, and apologized for it. She said she doesn't hold any resentment toward Clemens, but when asked if she's "as angry as can be with [her] husband," she said, "Yes."

The defense also called current Rice University head coach Wayne Graham, who testified about coaching Clemens at San Jacinto Junior College and helping him find more velocity out of a 6-foot-2 frame that at the time was "pleasantly plump." Clemens smiled slightly and nodded during parts of the appearance by the 76-year-old coach, who said he'd ridden Clemens to be better "as hard as I'd ever ridden anybody," but that Clemens always trained hard.

Dr. Terrence Boos, a chemist for the Drug Enforcement Agency, returned to the stand -- this time as a defense witness -- and testified that items McNamee kept as evidence had multiple steroids on them, which could be a function of "stacking" of steroids or possible cross-contamination.

Two attorneys for DLA Piper, the firm that produced the Mitchell Report, also testified in the afternoon, going over memos produced from their interviews with McNamee in 2007, with the defense attempting to point out discrepancies in McNamee's story over time.

Once the defense rests, the prosecution will have the opportunity to present a short rebuttal case to address specific issues raised during the defense presentation. After that, each side will have two hours for final argument before the case is sent to the jury.

With the eighth week coming to a close Friday, time is growing short to finish the trial without further interruption. Walton has to be out of town June 14-15, and a juror is leaving the country for six months as of June 19. Only one of the four alternate jurors remains, along with the 12 jurors who will decide 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.