SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – In the final pretrial hearing before Barry Bonds’ perjury trial on Monday, a federal judge in San Francisco ruled that prosecutors can’t use evidence of 11 allegedly threatening voice mail messages the baseball slugger left for a former girlfriend.
U.S. District Judge Susan Illston said, “I find that they are at most very marginal in terms of any relevance and they could be prejudicial.
“They are very unattractive and I think that’s the only reason they would be used. I’m going to exclude them,” the judge said.
Bonds, 46, faces four counts of making false statements and one count of obstructing justice during 2003 testimony before a federal grand jury investigating steroid dealing.
Prosecutors allege that the home-run champion lied when he said he never knowingly received steroids, human growth hormone or any injection from his trainer, Greg Anderson.
KCBS’ Margie Shafer Reports:
Prosecutors don’t provide dates of the messages. Bonds and Bell dated from 1994 to 2003.
A few of the recordings showed a playful and caring Bonds calling Bell his “little spark plug” who brings “a lot of bright stuff to my life.” He leaves several similar messages around a Valentine’s Day.
“Hello? I’m working out right now, but I’m calling you to wish you a happy, happy, happy, happy Valentine’s, ‘cause you worth all that and all them wishes. Love to you baby, peace.”
Another shows him complaining about his inability to drop by her apartment because his Porsche broke down and his wife and children need the other car, a Mercedes.
“Just chill and I’ll catch up with you,” he says.
But many others are darker and abusive. He calls her a “slut” in one, and uses more graphic language in others.
“You better reach out and page me once in a while or you’re up to something other than that,” he says in one of the few angry voicemails devoid of profanity. “Girl, I ain’t playing.”
Bonds also, at one point, admonishes Bell: “don’t forget to erase your messages, later.”
Prosecutors had sought to use the telephone messages left for former girlfriend Kimberly Bell to support their claim that Bonds exhibited anger, sometimes known as “’roid rage,” as a result of taking steroids.
Defense attorneys had argued that there is no scientific link between the angry messages and the alleged drug use.
The trial is expected to last three to four weeks and begins with jury selection on Monday.
Bonds set single-season and career home-run records while playing for the San Francisco Giants between 1993 and 2007.