8:14 PM (BCN):Home-run champion Barry Bonds was convicted by a federal jury in San Francisco today of one count of obstructing justice by giving evasive testimony in 2003 to a grand jury investigating steroids.
But the jury failed to reach a verdict on three other counts that charged Bonds with lying about whether he ever knowingly took steroids or human growth hormone or was ever injected by his trainer.
U.S. District Judge Susan Illston declared a mistrial on those three counts.
U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said prosecutors will decide “as soon as possible” whether to seek a retrial on the three charges.
Illston scheduled a status conference on May 20 to set a sentencing date for the former San Francisco Giants outfielder.
Bonds, 46, set Major League Baseball’s single-season home-run record of 73 while playing for the Giants in 2001 and hit the all-time record of 762 in his last season in 2007.
The conviction carries a theoretical maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. But two other sports figures who were convicted of lying in the steroids probe were sentenced by Illston to home confinement.
The partial verdict came on the fourth day of jury deliberations following a three-week trial.
Haag said, “We are gratified by the guilty verdict” on the obstruction charge.
“This case is about upholding one of the most fundamental principles in our system of justice – the obligation of every witness to provide truthful and direct testimony in judicial proceedings,” Haag said.
Bonds’ attorneys said they will challenge the obstruction conviction in post-trial proceedings before Illston and on appeal if necessary.
Lead defense attorney Allen Ruby emphasized, in comments to reporters, that Bonds was not convicted of lying about his alleged drug use.
“There was no conviction on anything having to do with steroids, human growth hormone or performance-enhancing drugs,” Ruby said.
“That’s where we are eight years later,” the attorney said, referring to Bonds’ grand jury testimony of Dec. 4, 2003.
The panel was investigating the distribution of performance-enhancing drugs by the Burlingame-based Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO.
Bonds is one of 11 people who were eventually indicted on charges of illegally distributing drugs or lying in connection with the probe. The others all pleaded guilty or were convicted of various charges.
Two who went to trial, cyclist Tammy Thomas and Olympic track coach Trevor Graham, were convicted of lying to the grand jury or to investigators and were sentenced by Illston, respectively, to six months and one year of home confinement.
Bonds admitted to the grand jury that he had taken substances known as “the clear” and “the cream” from his weight trainer, Greg Anderson, but said he thought they were flaxseed oil and arthritis ointment.
The substances were later identified as so-called designer steroids that had been engineered to be undetectable.
The three false-statements charges on which the jury deadlocked were allegations that Bonds lied said he never knowingly received steroids or human growth hormone from Anderson and never received any kind of injection from Anderson.
Because Anderson refused to testify in the trial, prosecutors had to rely largely on circumstantial evidence to try to prove their perjury case.
Anderson was found in contempt of court by Illston for refusing to testify and was jailed for the duration of the trial. The judge granted him release on Friday after jury deliberations began.
The one charge on which prosecutors appeared to have direct evidence was the count related to injections. Prosecution witness Kathy Hoskins, a former personal shopper for Bonds, testified she saw Anderson inject Bonds with an unknown substance in 2002 while she was packing for Bonds for a Giants roadtrip.
Several jurors who spoke outside the Federal Building courthouse after the trial said the panel voted 11-1 in favor of convicting Bonds on that count.
The holdout juror, a 28-year-old nurse who gave her name as Nyiesha, said she thought Hoskins was not a reliable witness because she may have wanted to help her brother, prosecution witness Steve Hoskins, who was also her landlord and her employer.
“Blood is thicker than water,” the juror said, citing a phrase used by Ruby in closing arguments last week when he urged the jury to be skeptical of Kathy Hoskins’ testimony.
The jurors gave slightly varying numbers on the other two counts, but agreed there was a majority of either 9-3 or 8-4 in favor of acquittal on each of those counts.
Jury foreman Fred Jacob, 56, an information technology manager from Marin County, said, “There just wasn’t enough information to connect the dots” on the other counts.
Defense attorney Dennis Riordan said Bonds’ lawyers will challenge the conviction by asking Illston to issue a directed verdict of acquittal or grant a new trial on the obstruction count.
The defense is due to file its motions with Illston by May 20, and she will set a deadline at the May 20 hearing for a prosecution response. If Illston denies the motions, the defense will appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Riordan said.
Riordan said he will argue that a statement identified by the trial jurors as evasive was not specifically included in a 2007 indictment filed against Bonds and was not material, or relevant, to the 2003 grand jury’s probe.
The statement was a rambling answer given by Bonds to a question in which Bonds was asked whether Anderson had ever given him anything that required a syringe to inject himself with.
In that answer, Bonds said he did not talk to Anderson about the trainer’s business. He referred to himself as a “celebrity child with a famous father” (baseball player Bobby Bonds) and said, “I just don’t get into other people’s business because of my father’s situation, you see.”
Riordan told Illston after the jury left the courtroom today, “Barry Bonds has been convicted of telling the grand jury he was a child of a celebrity.”
Jurors were told by Illston during jury instructions that they could use any of seven statements made by Bonds before the grand jury as a basis for convicting him of obstructing justice.
Three of the statements–which were not selected by jurors–were the three alleged lies spelled out in the indictment.
The other four, including the “celebrity child” statement, were excerpts from a transcript of grand jury testimony that was read to the trial jury last week but were not specifically quoted in the indictment.
Outside of court after the trial, one of the jurors said he believed Bonds gave “a series of evasive answers” to the grand jury. Prosecutors questioning Bonds before the panel would ask a question in “two or three different ways and never got an answer,” the juror said.
3:05 PM(BCN): A jury this afternoon found San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds guilty of obstruction of justice in his federal perjury trial.
The verdict was read shortly after 2:30 p.m. in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Susan Illston at the Federal Building on Golden Gate Avenue in San Francisco.
Bonds, 46, was accused of lying about his use of performance-enhancing drugs in 2003 testimony before a federal grand jury investigating the distribution of such drugs by the Burlingame-based Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO.
The jury said it was unable to reach a verdict on three other counts of lying to the grand jury.
Illston said she would declare a mistrial on those counts.
2:32 PM: The jurors have returned to the courtroom, KTVU reports.
They were not able to reach a decision on counts 1, 2,and 3 (false declaration to a grand jury), but was found guilty on the last charge, obstruction of justice.
2:20 PM (Eve Batey): The Judge in this case has, says KTVU, decided to allow the jury to render their verdict on the single count Bonds faces on which they were able to reach a unanimous verdict. We don’t know what count that is, yet.
She will, KTVU reports, declare a mistrial on the three remaining counts Bonds faces.
The court’s on recess at present, so their verdict announcement is on hold until they reconvene, which should be shortly.
2:14 PM (Eve Batey): According to KTVU broadcast, the jury reentered the courtroom briefly to indicate that they’ve reached a verdict in only one of the four counts (we don’t know which one) Bonds is facing.
Bonds’ defense then requested the judge declare a mistrial, which is one option — another is that the judge send them back to keep on deliberating. Sort of like how you couldn’t get up from dinner until you ate it all.
The court’s presently in recess, and the judge is expected to announce a decision on what happens next when they return.
2:06 PM (Eve Batey): According to KTVU broadcast, there is some confusion on if the jury has reached a decision, or not. The announcement was made to media that a verdict had been reached, but according to KTVU, the jury has since indicated that they were not yet ready to announce their decision.
Both the prosecution and defense are present in the courtroom, but the jury hasn’t arrived, and everyone (including media) is “at a standstill.”
More when we know more.
1:46 PM: The jury in the federal perjury trial of baseball home-run champion Barry Bonds has reached a verdict.
The verdict will be read sometime after 1:45 p.m. in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Susan Illston at the Federal Building on Golden Gate Avenue in San Francisco.
Bonds, 46, is accused of lying about his use of performance-enhancing drugs in 2003 testimony before a federal grand jury.
The grand jury was investigating the distribution of such drugs by the Burlingame-based Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO.
Including the jury deliberations, the trial is now in its fourth week.