SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – A lawyer for home-run leader Barry Bonds urged a federal appeals court in San Francisco Wednesday to overturn the former San Francisco Giants outfielder’s obstruction-of-justice conviction.
Bonds, 48, was convicted in a federal trial in San Francisco in 2011 of obstructing justice in his 2003 testimony before a grand jury investigating a Burlingame laboratory’s sales of performance-enhancing steroids and hormones to professional athletes.
As part of its verdict, the trial jury found that Bonds was evasive when he gave a rambling statement in response to a question about whether his trainer, Greg Anderson, ever gave him anything to inject himself with.
The jury deadlocked on three other charges that Bonds lied in his answers to other questions, and prosecutors later dismissed those counts.
In the statement found to be evasive, Bonds said he was the “celebrity child” of a baseball-playing father and that he didn’t talk to Anderson about business matters.
In arguments before a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday, defense attorney Dennis Riordan argued that the conviction should be tossed out because a 2007 indictment did not specifically include that statement.
“Barry Bonds was convicted on the basis of a single statement of 52 words primarily about his relationship with his father,” Riordan said.
The indictment’s failure to give notice of the statement “is a dagger in the heart of this conviction,” Riordan argued.
Federal prosecutor Merry Jean Chan argued that the statement was just one example of a general strategy of evasion in which Bonds was trying to hide his alleged use of steroids during his grand jury testimony on Dec. 4, 2003.
“The indictment very clearly targeted the defendant with obstructive activity on a particular date,” Chan told the court.
“The government has all along maintained that his testimony was a single course of conduct littered with obstructive examples” such as the statement identified by the trial jury, she said.