Sat, Feb 21, 2009 - Page 20 News List

Judge rules crucial evidence against Bonds inadmissible

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , NEW YORK

The judge presiding over Barry Bonds’ perjury case dealt prosecutors a significant setback late on Thursday, ruling that the government cannot use several pieces of key evidence — including documents that tied Bonds to positive drug tests and doping calendars — at his trial, which is scheduled to begin next month.

US District Judge Susan Illston said that without the testimony of Greg Anderson, Barry Bonds’ former trainer, the evidence could not be authenticated and directly tied to Bonds. Anderson spent a year in prison for refusing to cooperate with the government’s investigation. Since his release in 2007, Anderson has continued to refuse to testify about substances he allegedly gave Bonds.

The documents that tied Bonds to positive drug tests were seized from the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative and said Bonds had steroids in his urine in 2000 and 2001.

Bonds is scheduled to go on trial March 2 on charges he made false statements before a grand jury investigating BALCO in 2003, saying he never knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs.

The government may appeal the judge’s decision, which would delay the trial several months.

A delay could give prosecutors a chance to try to pressure Anderson to testify. The government has pressured Anderson by threatening his wife and mother-in-law on charges related to their finances.

Illston also ruled that prosecutors could play a significant portion of a secretly taped conversation between Bonds’ former business manager, Steve Hoskins, and Anderson.

The government said Hoskins recorded the conversation in 2003 in the San Francisco Giants’ locker room. On the tape, Anderson said the substances Bonds was allegedly using were undetectable and that he injected him in different areas to prevent infections.

The judge excluded the part of the tape in which Anderson said that he had information about when players would be tested under MLB’s drug-testing program.

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