WASHINGTON -- As the seventh week of the Roger Clemens federal perjury trial begins, the prosecution is poised to rest its case against the former star pitcher.With likely two witnesses remaining before the government's case gives way to the defense's case, which lead attorney Rusty Hardin has said will take seven or eight court days to present, the prosecution has called 21 witnesses over 19 days of complicated, detailed and sometimes tedious testimony to attempt to prove to jurors beyond a reasonable doubt that Clemens lied to Congress in 2008. The defense will continue to endeavor to raise that doubt with its case, which will include repeat appearances from federal agents Jeff Novitzky and John Longmire, who each spent several hours on the stand as witnesses for the prosecution. Before Hardin and fellow defense attorney Michael Attanasio, who proved to be a potent force in cross-examination of witnesses from Andy Pettitte to scientific experts, take their turn in presenting Clemens' case, the prosecution will wrap up its presentation with what it hopes is an effective finale Tuesday. Clemens is charged with three counts of making false statements, two counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of Congress based on his testimony 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 said at the hearing, "Let me be clear: I have never used steroids or HGH." Brian McNamee, who served as a strength and conditioning trainer to Clemens in one capacity or another for nearly a decade, said in his own deposition and at that same hearing and again in a week-long stay on the witness stand in the trial that he had injected Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs on numerous occasions, keeping items he says proves it in a beer can and a mailing box for nearly seven years. Forensic scientist Alan Keel revealed Friday that Clemens' DNA was found on a needle and two cotton balls that were part of the physical evidence McNamee kept in his house for several years before turning it over to the government. Keel also withstood rigorous cross-examination from Attanasio and numerous skeptical questions from jurors. When court reconvenes Tuesday, the government intends to call Wall Street investment manager Anthony Corso and FBI forensic scientist Eric Pokorak. Prosecutors indicated at one point they might call one other as yet unnamed witness as well. Corso is expected to testify about how McNamee told him in 2002 that Clemens had used HGH to help with recovery and told him in 2005 that he had saved needles from Clemens, combining with the testimony from former Major Leaguer David Segui to further rebut defense attacks that McNamee made up his story to appease federal investigators in 2007. Pokorak likely will tie up the loose ends on the forensics introduced so far. Testimony has yet to provide the link between the items Keel testified had Clemens' DNA to the steroids that other scientific experts testified were found on the items. The government filed a pair of motions on Memorial Day. One moves to rebut the defense's attacks on Keel and inform the jury that the defense also could have tested the evidence.
The other motion attempts to head off some of the character witnesses the defense intends to call, asking the court to "preclude or limit additional evidence of the defendant's athletic work ethic and any opinion testimony by former coaches, trainers or teammates regarding the defendant not showing any signs of steroid or HGH use."
The government argued that such testimony should open the door to testimony from other baseball players who "also adhered to strong athletic work ethics but nonetheless used steroids or HGH to perform better than their competitors."The pace of the trial was a significant issue earlier in the trial, which was projected to last 4-6 weeks -- so much so that Judge Reggie Walton imposed time limits on the attorneys of 90 minutes for direct and cross. But Walton allowed both sides some leeway on that with Keel, given the importance of the evidence he discussed. Juror questions of Keel took about an hour as well. Two jurors were excused for falling asleep on the job, and now a third juror may not be able to return. Juror No. 16, a Metro transit police officer, found out as Friday's proceedings were coming to a close that her mother had passed away. Walton indicated it's unlikely she'll return to duty, which would leave the jury panel with 12 jurors and just one alternate remaining.
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.