Bonds trial heads into second week
High-profile case to feature testimony from former mistress
SAN FRANCISCO -- Week 1 of the case of USA v. Barry Lamar Bonds is on the record as presented to a jury, and the government's case against the former baseball superstar will continue when the trial resumes Monday.
The second week will feature the anticipated appearance of Kimberly Bell, Bonds' mistress of nine years, who is expected to testify that she saw physical and personality changes in Bonds that could be attributed to steroid use.
Bell's appearance is expected to be preceded by testimony from federal agents who seized urine samples from Quest Laboratories in Las Vegas -- samples that were part of the 2003 "survey" year of Major League Baseball's testing program. A sample is said by the government to be from Bonds and to have tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
Giants equipment manager Mike Murphy, former Giants and current Dodgers trainer Stan Conte and Kathy Hoskins, sister of previous government witness Steve Hoskins and like him a former employee of Bonds, are also listed by the prosecution as witnesses it intends to call this week.
Already, the trial has been a courtroom drama. The Major Leagues' all-time home run leader has spent four days at the center of the defense table, his freedom and legacy at stake. Bonds is being tried on four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice, charges based on his testimony before the BALCO grand jury in which he denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs.
The trial is taking place at the U.S. District Court for the Northern Division of California, located in a high-rise government building a block away from the San Francisco Civic Center, where the Giants and a million or so of their fans celebrated the team's 2010 World Series title at the end of their victory parade.
Inside the courtroom, on the 19th floor, the Hon. Susan Illston has presided over the case much in the same way she reportedly has the rest of the proceedings involving the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) and the case against Bonds that emerged from it: efficiently and with respect for the legal process.
The defendant, now 46 -- head still cleanly shaven as in his latter playing days and dressed in a suit -- has been surrounded at a table on the left side of the room by his legal team. His defense is headed by Allen Ruby, a large presence in the courtroom with his 6-foot-3 frame, deep baritone voice and sharp questioning. The prosecution, seated mid-room between the defense table and the jury on the right side of the room, is headed by assistant U.S. district attorney Matthew Parrella, along with fellow U.S. assistant D.A. Jeffrey Nedrow. Chief prosecution witness and BALCO investigator Jeff Novitzky, the tall former basketball player with a head cleanly shaven much like the defendant's, has been seated at the government's table throughout the trial.
In the gallery of hardwood pews, two rows of more than 20 journalists have taken in every minute of the trial, laptops open and online, some tweeting observations by the minute, others taking notes for daily reports. Also in the gallery every day thus far, an elderly woman with a walker, seated in the back row -- that's Rosie Bonds, sister of Bobby Bonds, aunt to Barry and a former Olympic hurdler. Attorneys, followers of the legal system and students from nearby UC Hastings College of the Law also sit in the two rows reserved for the public. Blue-coated bailiffs circulate and keep a watchful eye on the gallery.
All that is just atmosphere, really. What matters now is what takes place between the lawyers and the witnesses on the stand -- and how the evidence presented plays to the eight women and four men (and two female alternates) in the jury box. Their names will not be known until the trial concludes, but they are from several different counties in the San Francisco Bay Area and reflect different demographic groups.
Through the first week, the prosecution presented Novitzky's firsthand account of the BALCO investigation, from "trash runs" to the convictions of BALCO founder Victor Conte and former Bonds trainer Greg Anderson on guilty pleas to distribution of steroids. Novitzky's testimony was followed by that of Steve Hoskins, a childhood friend of Bonds' who became one of his business managers until a falling out in 2003. While his appearance brought in a recording of Hoskins asking Anderson about Bonds receiving injections, the defense countered by bringing out discrepancies between Hoskins' statements to government investigators and his testimony at trial.
The government also presented an expert witness, Dr. Larry Bowers of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, who testified to side effects of steroid use, which is expected to set up Bell's testimony. Ruby presented case studies that refuted some of Bowers' assertions, pointing out also that Bowers is a scientist, not a medical doctor.
According to court documents, Bell is expected to testify that Bonds told her he took steroids and that she saw physical changes in Bonds, including bloating, acne on the shoulders and back, hair loss, sexual dysfunction, and testicular shrinkage, along with so-called "'roid rage," or mood changes brought on by steroid use -- all side effects discussed by Bowers on the stand.
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.