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Bonds perjury trial likely to start in March

July 23, 2010 5:46:21 PM PDT
It looks like the long-delayed trial of former Giants slugger Barry Bonds will finally go forward next spring. The legal process against him was stopped in March of last year, but after a hearing on Friday, it's back on track.

One estimate puts the cost of the case so far at $50 million, and it's not over yet. It almost got started in March of last year, but was put on hold while the prosecution appealed the judge's decision to exclude some drug testing evidence.

Just last month the appeals court upheld the judge's decision and it is game-on, again.

Bonds defense lawyers and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office compared calendars with the judge and came up with a probable start date of March, 2011.

Defense attorney Allen Ruby says his client is anxious to get to trial.

"Everyone who knows anything about this case, except maybe the government, is very anxious to have a trial and let a jury decide the case," he said.

Bonds faces 10 counts of false statements and one count of obstruction of justice. He's accused of lying to a federal grand jury investigating illegal drug distribution by the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative or BALCO in 2003.

Since then, Bonds' trainer and childhood friend Greg Anderson has gone to prison for refusing to testify. Without him, the judge has ruled and an appeals court agreed, the prosecution cannot use three positive drug tests in its case.

"I think the big surprise today is that the government didn't dismiss this case. The government lost plan A when Greg Anderson refused to testify. Plan B went out the door when they lost key evidence, I don't know if they've got a plan C," ABC7 News Legal Analyst Dean Johnson said.

"Well Barry Bonds is innocent, and we've felt since the first day that the government's evidence proves nothing and we still feel the government's evidence proves nothing," Ruby said.

Johnson says the defense has gone as far as it can limiting the prosecution's evidence, their next big move might be asking the judge to acquit bonds for lack of evidence right after the government presents its case. If it does go a jury, Johnson thinks a conviction will be a tough sell.

"Make no mistake about it. This is a home game for Barry Bonds, this is exactly where he wants to be," he said.

When asked if they might consider a plea agreement, bonds' attorneys said absolutely not, no chance and prosecutors declined comment.


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