SAN FRANCISCO — Barry Bonds was convicted of obstruction of justice Wednesday but a jury failed to reach a verdict on three other counts that the home run king lied to a grand jury when he denied knowingly using steroids and human growth hormone.
Following a 12-day trial and almost four full days of deliberation, the jury of eight women and four men could reach a unanimous verdict only on one of the four counts against Bonds. U.S. District Judge Susan Illston declared a mistrial on the others, a messy end to a case that put the slugger — and baseball itself — under a cloud of suspicion for more than three years.
Bonds sat stone-faced through the verdict, displaying no emotion. His legal team immediately asked that the guilty verdict be thrown out and Illston did not rule on the request. She set May 20 for a hearing in the case.
The case also represented the culmination of the federal investigation into the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative steroids ring. Federal prosecutors and the Justice Department will have to decide whether to retry Bonds on the unresolved counts.
The counts that the jury could not resolve accused of Bonds of lying to the grand jury investigating BALCO in 2003 when he said he never knowingly took steroids or HGH, and when he said he was never injected by anyone except his doctors.
Now 46, Bonds set baseball’s record for home runs in a career with 762 while playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants from 1986-2007. The jury met less than two miles from the ballpark where the seven-time NL MVP set record after record.
Bonds was indicted on Nov. 15, 2007, exactly 50 days after taking his final big league swing and 100 after topping Hank Aaron’s career home run mark of 755. He also set the season record with 73 home runs in 2001 with the Giants.
Illston would not let prosecutors present evidence of three alleged positive drug tests by Bonds because his personal trainer and childhood friend, Greg Anderson, refused to testify and there was no one to confirm the samples came from Bonds.
Bonds acknowledged that he did take steroids but said Anderson misled him into believing they were flaxseed oil and arthritis cream.
Anderson was sentenced by Illston in 2005 to three months in prison and three months in home confinement after pleading guilty to one count of money laundering and one count of steroid distribution. The trainer was jailed on March 22 for the duration of the trial after again refusing to testify against Bonds. He was released last Friday.
Jeff Novitzky, the federal agent who started the BALCO probe, had been hoping the Bonds case would be part of a wider investigation of doping in baseball. Last year, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Novitzky and his team of investigators illegally seized urine samples and records from 104 players in 2004.
Separately, Novitzky has helped develop the case against former star pitcher Roger Clemens, who is scheduled to stand trial in July for lying to Congress by denying he used performance-enhancing drugs. Novitzky also is a key player in the federal doping investigation of pro cyclists, including seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. Rep. Jack Kingston, a Georgia Republican, recently suggested that the federal agent is motivated by a desire to bring down a celebrity.
Paul Elias/The Associated Press