barry-bonds.jpgA federal judge in San Francisco deferred ruling today 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 partner.

Bonds, 46, is due to go on trial in the court of U.S. District Judge Susan Illston on March 21 on four counts of lying and one count of obstructing justice in December 2003 testimony before a federal grand jury investigating the distribution of illegal sports drugs.

Among other charges, he is accused of lying when he told the grand jury he never received steroids or an injection from his trainer, Greg Anderson.

Federal prosecutors say the recording was made by Bonds’ former business manager, Steve Hoskins, of a conversation with Anderson at the San Francisco Giants’ clubhouse in March 2003.

They allege the tape shows Anderson saying in “disguised language” that he injected Bonds with anabolic steroids and discussing the symptoms caused by the drug.

But defense attorney Donald Horgan argued before Illston today that the prosecutors hadn’t proved by a preponderance of evidence that steroids were the subject of the alleged conversation.

“Other substances can cause these kinds of symptoms,” Horgan maintained.

Anderson has refused to testify at the trial. Prosecutors contend that evidence rules allow the use of the recording because Anderson is unavailable as a witness and his alleged statements on the tape are against his interests.

Illston took the defense motion to bar the use of the recording under consideration and will issue a written ruling later.

Prosecutors say Hoskins, a childhood friend of Bonds, has said he made the secret recording because he wanted to prove to Bonds’ father that the former San Francisco Giants slugger was allegedly taking steroids.

Additional pretrial defense and prosecution motions are due to be filed on Monday and will be considered by Illston at a March 1 hearing.

Defense attorneys also said they expect Bonds to be arraigned on March 1 on the newest version of a grand jury indictment against him.

The latest indictment – the fourth version of charges filed against Bonds – was obtained by prosecutors on Thursday and pared down the number of charges against him from 11 to five.

Bonds set the Major League Baseball career home run record while playing for the Giants in 2007. He also set the single-season record with 73 home runs in 2001.

Julia Cheever, Bay City News

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