At Barry Bonds' Trial, Prosecution And Defense Close Their Cases

Apr 7, 2011

"All he had to do was tell the truth," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Nedrow told a San Francisco jury earlier today as the prosecution summed up its case against former baseball great Barry Bonds, who is accused of lying to a grand jury about whether he knew used performance-enhancing drugs.

But Bonds' lawyer, Allen Ruby, argued that the government did not prove that his client knowingly lied. The San Jose Mercury News, which live-blogged today's court proceeding and has a big archive of material about the case, says Ruby also made the case that the government was out to get Bonds:

"Ruby insisted that Bonds answered every question, never asked to speak to a lawyer, despite the fact prosecutors 'clearly tried to intimidate him.' But Bonds, Ruby argued, was not intimidated. 'He wasn't. A lot of the venom in the government's pursuit here is that he was not intimidated. He was not subserviant. He was Barry.'

"And, Ruby argued, if 'highly trained' prosecutors thought Bonds was being evasive in his answers, 'Then, c'mon, ask another question.'

" 'He rambles,' Ruby said. 'But last time I checked, that isn't a crime.' "

NPR's Richard Gonzales, who has been covering the case, will be on All Things Considered later to talk about it. We'll add his report to this post when it's ready.

Richard told NPR's Newscast desk earlier that the crux of the prosecution's case is that "it's implausible" for Bonds to argue that he didn't know he had been injected with steroids by a trainer. "The government is alleging that he knew he was getting steroids and that he lied about it ... to salvage his career," Richard added. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit



Jurors in the Barry Bonds' perjury trial heard closing arguments today. Federal prosecutors claimed that baseball's home run king lied when he told the federal grand jury in 2003 that he had never knowingly taken performance-enhancing drugs. But the prosecution was dealt a setback when a potential key witness, Bonds' former trainer, Greg Anderson, chose to go to prison rather than testify against his friend and former boss. Bonds' defense team appeared so confident that it rested its case yesterday without calling any witnesses to rebut the charges of perjury.

NPR's Richard Gonzales has been following the trial in San Francisco, and he joins me now. And first, Richard, why don't you summarize what the government's closing arguments were today?

RICHARD GONZALES: Well, the prosecution wants jurors to believe that Bonds knew he was taking steroids when he denied taking them. In grand jury testimony back in 2003, he admitted taking two substances called the cream and the clear. And he said then, he thought that they were flaxseed oil and an arthritis cream.

The prosecution had three major witnesses. Steve Hoskins, a former business manager, who said that he talked with Bonds about using steroids; in Hoskins' words, steroid use was out of hand.

Another witness, a former girlfriend, Kimberly Bell, testified that Bonds became emotionally abusive, aggressive and irritable, and that his body had changed in ways that are associated with steroid use.

And then finally, there was Kathy Hoskins. She's a sister of Steve Hoskins. She said that she saw Bonds receiving an injection of something - she didn't know what - and that that shot had been administered by the trainer, Greg Anderson.

BLOCK: And we'll get back to Greg Anderson, the trainer, in just a minute. But let's talk first about the defense and how they have rebutted the government's witnesses that you just talked about.

GONZALES: The defense in its closing remarks is saying that all three witnesses against Bonds have a personal interest, an ax to grind, but I want to add that one witness, Kathy Hoskins, who says she saw Bonds receiving an injection seems very credible.

And one of the charges against Bonds is that he denied that anyone other than his doctor ever gave him an injection.

BLOCK: Now, the former trainer, whom we've mentioned, Greg Anderson, chose to go to prison, as we said, not to testify against Barry Bonds. What does that do to the prosecution's case?

GONZALES: It really hamstrings it. Anderson would be the star witness in this case, except that he is in jail. The government has documents, his doping calendars that tie Bonds to steroid use. But the judge, Susan Illston, ruled that those records are inadmissible without Anderson's testimony to authenticate them.

Meanwhile, we had four former Major League ballplayers, including former Oakland A's and New York Yankee slugger Jason Giambi, all saying they had received performance-enhancing drugs from Anderson.

So what the prosecution is hoping is that the jury will think, okay, Anderson gave those guys drugs, then he probably gave them to Bonds too.

BLOCK: And in the end, it could be, if Barry Bonds is not convicted, that Greg Anderson ends up spending more than a year in jail. Barry Bonds could walk free.

GONZALES: That's true. Bonds' defense lawyers sent a pretty confident message yesterday that they didn't think the prosecution presented a convincing case at all, so they rested without calling any witnesses.

They had floated the idea that they might put Bonds on the stand, but no one really took that seriously. And so now, we're in the closing phase of this thing.

BLOCK: And, Richard, if Barry Bonds is convicted, what kind of sentence would he face?

GONZALES: He could get up to 10 years on a single count, but under some federal sentencing guidelines, it's more likely that he would just get a few months if he's convicted.

BLOCK: Okay. NPR's Richard Gonzales covering the Barry Bonds perjury trial in San Francisco.

Richard, thanks so much.

GONZALES: Thank you.

BLOCK: And that case how gone to the jury. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.