SAN FRANCISCO -- Kimberly Bell, who was Barry Bonds' mistress for nine years, from 1994-2003, took the witness stand on Monday morning in Bonds' federal perjury trial as it entered a second week, offering intimate details about her former lover that the government alleges point to his steroid use.
On direct examination, Bell testified that Bonds underwent physical changes around the years 1999-2001, and that he told her that his elbow injury that required surgery in 1999 was caused by steroid use. She also tearfully recounted abusive comments and behavior Bonds directed toward her, including him telling her to "disappear" and end their relationship in May 2003.
Bell's testimony is another key element of the prosecution's case as Bonds stands trial on four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice, charges based on his testimony before the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) grand jury, in which he denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs.
Bell faced intense and sometimes contentious cross-examination from defense attorney Cristina Arguedas, who attempted to portray Bell as having sought publicity for her book on the relationship with Bonds and that she was a scorned lover hoping for retribution.
The government indicated that among the witnesses they expect to call as the trial continues Tuesday are former Major League players Jason and Jeremy Giambi and Randy Velarde. Former Giants and current Dodgers trainer Stan Conte and persons who have knowledge of Bonds' 2003 urine sample seized from Quest Diagnostics also are on the prosecution's upcoming witness list.
Assistant U.S. District Attorney Jeffrey Nedrow began his questioning of Bell by establishing the start of her relationship with Bonds, who was introduced to Bell by her friend, Kathy Hoskins in July 1994. Bonds was separated from his first wife at the time; Bell was 24 years old.
Bell, who remained Bonds' mistress after Bonds married his second wife, Elizabeth, testified that sometime between the 1999 and 2000 seasons at her condo in a San Francisco suburb, she and Bonds had the one conversation they ever had about steroids. She said Bonds told her that steroid use was the cause of his elbow injury. Former childhood friend and business manager Steve Hoskins testified earlier in the trial that Dr. Arthur Ting, Bonds' surgeon, had told him the same thing.
"[Bonds] said it was because the steroids caused the muscles and the tendons to grow too fast for the joint to handle, so he blew it out," Bell testified.
Further, she testified, "He said he didn't shoot it up every day like bodybuilders." She added that her impression was Bonds was motivated to use steroids because others were doing it. "That's how they were getting ahead. That's how they were achieving, with steroids," Bell testified.
In response to questioning from Nedrow, Bell said that she noticed physical changes in Bonds from about 1999 onward. "I think it's clear his overall body grew dramatically," adding that Bonds was losing his hair, suffering from acne on his back and shoulders, bloating and issues with sexual dysfunction, including what she said was a change in the shape and size of his testicles. All of those conditions are considered by experts to be side effects of steroid use.
Bell also described several instances that occurred while she stayed with Bonds during spring, in which she observed trainer Greg Anderson taking Bonds into a bedroom in the morning with a bag, "almost like a shaving kit," locking the door and staying in with him for about 20 minutes. Nedrow provided a bag as a piece of evidence, and Bell confirmed what she saw was similar to the item presented.
Bell became emotional when describing how Bonds' personality and actions toward her had changed.
"He was just increasingly aggressive, irritable, agitated, very impatient, almost violent," Bell said.
She went on to describe how Bonds would address her verbally toward the end of their relationship. "He said he'd cut my head off and leave me in a ditch," Bell testified, adding that Bonds had said he would "cut out my breast implants because he paid for them."
When the relationship ended in May 2003, she said the breakup was Bonds' idea.
"He told me to disappear, and I wasn't really sure what he meant by that. That was the last time I saw him," Bell testified.
Monday was the first time the two had seen each other since then, she said.
Arguedas came out swinging on cross-examination, leading off what would be a contentious series of questions with, "You have had a tremendous amount of practice of telling this information to an audience, is that correct?" Bell answered, "I wouldn't call it practice."
Arguedas then detailed that Bell was interviewed on more than 20 radio shows, and appeared with author Aphrodite Jones, who had signed on to write the book of Bell's experiences with Bonds but whom Bell later severed ties with, on Geraldo Rivera's show on Fox News, along with several other television interviews. Arguedas continued to hammer at Bell's motivations, noting among other things that the publicist who brokered her interview and nude photo spread in Playboy magazine was dubbed the "Sultan of Sleaze." Bell said she found out that nickname of David Hans Schmidt when he killed himself by hanging; she received only about $18,000 of the $100,000 she'd been promised by Schmidt for the Playboy spread.
Arguedas's cross-examination of Bell was often peppered with requests from Arguedas and Judge Susan Illston for "yes or no" answers instead of elaboration. After a lunch break, Arguedas continued questioning Bell about how she approached publicity issues surrounding the book she wanted to write on her relationship with Bonds. Arguedas also brought into evidence documents relating to a house Bell bought in Arizona that stated it would be a second residence, though it was not, and brought into the light also that $10,000 gifts for the down payment were not from her parents as stated in mortgage documents, but rather from Bonds.
Bell lived in the house for two years before selling it, and had her lawyer contact Bonds' representatives to get him to pay off the house, as she said she was promised. An offer of $20,000 presented by Bonds' attorney was rejected, with Bell saying in the Geraldo interview that it was "peanuts." She contends Jones coached her to make that statement, as well as many others in the publicity process of the book, which has not been written since she parted ways with Jones.
Bell was preceded on the stand by Giants equipment manager Mike Murphy, who testified that Bonds' hat size increased from 7 1/4 when he first arrived as a free agent in 1993 but was 7 3/8 at the end of his playing career, which lasted through 2007. The government contends his changed hat size is a side effect of steroid use. On cross-examination by defense attorney Allen Ruby, however, Murphy was asked about Hall of Famer Willie Mays, who is Bonds' godfather, and Murphy said Mays' hat size went from 6 7/8 to 7 1/8 later in life, after his playing days.
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.