SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5 / AP / BCN) ― A federal judge in San Francisco deferred ruling Friday on whether the jury in next month’s perjury trial of former baseball star Barry Bonds can hear a secret recording of an alleged conversation between his trainer and former business manager.
U.S. District Judge Susan Illston took the defense motion to bar the use of the recording that allegedly discusses Bonds’ steroids use under consideration and said she would issue a written ruling later.
Bonds’ perjury trial is scheduled to begin March 21 with jury slection.
The recording was made by Stevie Hoskins, a childhood friend of Bonds who became his business manager, in March 2003. Prosecutors said it is a conversation between Hoskins and Bonds’ personal trainer Greg Anderson in the San Francisco Giants clubhouse. Anderson can be heard discussing an undetectable substance he appeared to have given Bonds. Prosecutors alleged Anderson was talking about a designer steroid they claim showed up in a Bonds urine test.
“But the whole thing is, everything I’ve been doing at this point, it’s all undetectable,” Anderson is recorded as telling Hoskins as the Giants’ Benito Santiago walks by and the two lower their voices, according to prosecutors. “See, the stuff that I have, we created it. And you can’t buy it anywhere. You can’t get it anywhere else. But you can take it the day of and pee, and it comes up with nothing.”
Bonds’ attorneys want to exclude the recording from the trial because of Anderson’s refusal to testify. They argued the tape can’t be authenticated without Anderson’s testimony. Anderson has said through his lawyer that he would rather go to prison on contempt charges than testify against Bonds.
Defense attorney Donald Horgan also argued before Illston on Friday that the prosecution hadn’t proved by a preponderance of evidence that steroids were the subject of the alleged conversation, which prosecutors have acknowleged uses “disguised language.”
Prosecutors want the jury to hear the tape to bolster their case that alleges Bonds lied to a federal grand jury when he denied knowingly taking performance enhancing drugs.
The prosecutors also plan to show the jury the results of a urine test collected from Bonds in 2003 as part of Major League Baseball’s inaugural testing program that included all players.
Bonds’ test initially came back negative. But prosecutors went back and tested it after famed anti-doping chemist Don Catlin developed a test for the designer steroid THG, which allegedly showed up in Bonds’ urine. They said the Hoskins recording shows Anderson discussing Bonds using THG.
A ruling for Bonds would be another blow to the prosecution. On Thursday, the government pared down the number of charges from 11 to five, although the MLB home run leader still faces the same punishment he always has.
The remaining charges are four counts of lying in December 2003 testimony before a federal grand jury investigating the distribution of illegal sports drugs, and one count of obstructing justice
Each count carries a potential sentence of 10 years in prison. However, federal sentencing guidelines for a first offense on these charges generally call for a total sentence of 15 to 21 months.
Hoskins told federal investigators that he made the recording to convince Bonds’ father, former MLB player Bobby Bonds, that his son was using performance enhancing drugs.
According to prosecutors, Bonds’ father “did not that believe that his son was using steroids” so Hoskins decided to offer him recorded proof. Hoskins turned over the recording to prosecutors after they began investigating Bonds for allegedly lying to the grand jury in December 2003.
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