A former girlfriend of Barry Bonds testified in the home-run champion’s perjury trial in federal court in San Francisco today that he told her in 1999 or 2000 that he was taking steroids.
Kimberly Bell also told the jury she observed changes in his body, including acne, growth of hair on the chest and shrinkage of the testicles, as well as increased irritability in the same time period.
“He was just increasingly aggressive, irritable, agitated,” Bell said under questioning from prosecutor Jeff Nedrow in the court of U.S. District Judge Susan Illston.
A prosecution science expert testified last week that the symptoms Bell described are linked to steroid use.
Bell, 41, a graphic artist, took the stand at the start of the second week of Bonds’ trial in the court of U.S. District Judge Susan Illston. Bell had a relationship with Bonds from 1994 until May 2003, when “he just told me to disappear,” she testified.
Bonds, 46, is accused of lying in December 2003 to a grand jury that was investigating drug sales to professional athletes by the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO.
Bell said that Bonds told her in either 1999 or 2000 that he was taking steroids after she asked him about an elbow injury.
The San Francisco Giants slugger is charged with obstructing justice and making four false statements, including statements that he never knowingly received steroids or human growth hormone from his trainer, Greg Anderson, and never received an injection from Anderson.
Anderson has refused to testify and has been jailed for contempt of court, but prosecutors are seeking to use other evidence, including Bell’s testimony, to show that Bonds took the drugs and knew he was doing so.
Under nearly five hours of cross-examination by defense attorney Cristina Arguedas, Bell denied that she was bitter and seeking revenge against Bonds because he married another woman in 1998, relegated her to being a “road-trip girlfriend,” and then broke up with her in 2003.
Arguedas asked whether Bell had been in “an absolute fury” when she learned through her lawyer in 2004 that Bonds was refusing to pay the remainder due on a house he helped her buy in Scottsdale, Ariz.
“I was hurt by his action,” Bell answered. “Angry? No.”
Bell also denied Arguedas’ suggestions that she sought to embarrass Bonds and create publicity that would enable her to make money from a future book when she appeared on numerous radio and television shows and had an interview in Playboy Magazine.
“Is it not the case you have taken many opportunities to disparage Mr. Bonds in many ways and in the most vulgar ways possible?” Arguedas asked.
“No, I was asked questions and I answered them,” Bell answered.
The book, for which Bell was considering the titles “In the Shadow of a Giant” or “Giant Mistake,” was never written, she said.
Tomorrow’s witnesses will include three baseball players: Colorado Rockies’ and former Oakland A’s first baseman Jason Giambi and former major league players Jeremy Giambi and Randy Velarde.
They are expected to testify that Anderson gave them performance-enhancing drugs along with instructions and schedules for using them, according to pretrial prosecution filings.
Bonds admitted during his grand jury testimony to taking substances known as “the clear” and “the cream” that prosecutors say were designer steroids, but said he believed they were merely flaxseed oil and an arthritis cream, his lawyers have said.
Bonds set Major League Baseball’s single-season home-run record in 2001 and hit the lifetime record during his last season with the Giants in 2007.
Julia Cheever, Bay City News
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