Bonds found guilty of obstruction of justice

April 13, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Home run king Barry Bonds was found guilty of obstruction of justice by a jury Wednesday in a San Francisco federal courtroom. Jurors deadlocked on the three perjury charges against Bonds that accused him of lying to the grand jury investigating steroids in baseball. U.S. District Judge Susan Illston declared a mistrial on those perjury counts.

Word went out by e-mail Wednesday afternoon around 1:30 p.m. that there was a verdict, but it required a courtroom meeting with the judge, the lawyers and the jury to figure out that there was a verdict, but for only one out of a possible four counts.

The judge asked the foreman if it might be fruitful to go back and deliberate some more, but he said no.

Bonds flashed a smile and a peace sign to supporters outside the courtroom as his defense attorney Allen Ruby prepared to address reporters. Ruby downplayed the one guilty verdict on the obstruction of justice charge.

"The counts which alleged steroids, which alleged needles, which alleged human growth hormone, those were mistried," said Ruby. "There was no conviction, no verdict, no finding adverse to Barry Bonds."

The jury voted 8 to 4 for acquittal on Count One, having to do with knowingly getting steroids from Greg Anderson. The vote was 11 to 1 guilty on Count Two, receiving an injection from anyone besides his personal doctors. On Count Three of taking human growth hormone, the jury voted 9 to 3 for acquittal. It was a unanimous guilty vote on Count Five, obstruction of justice.

Bonds' defense team stopped short of calling the outcome a victory over the prosecution.

"Counts one, two and three, were the heart of their case," said Ruby. "Those were the counts that had allegations about steroids, allegations about human growth hormone, and so forth. We have no verdict on those counts."

Bonds was stoic as the verdict was read at about 2 p.m. His lawyers will fight the one guilty verdict and the government will have to decide whether to retry.

"I don't think they'll bother to retry," said Peter Keane with the Golden Gate University School of Law. "I think for the prosecution a conviction on one was as good as a conviction on four, and that's all they were looking for."

U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag issued a statement saying, " We respect the jury's decision and their careful consideration of the evidence in this case and are gratified by the guilty verdict on Count Five."

Prison time is a possible sentence with this conviction, but this same judge has only given home detention to the other BALCO defendants found guilty in jury trials. No word yet on when sentencing might take place.

Jurors speak out about verdict

When Bonds testified before the grand jury, this jury found that he was not direct and was begin very evasive, and that is why they found him guilty.

Regarding Bonds' former girlfriend, Kimberly Bell, the jury said she could not be trusted because there were a lot of inconsistencies with her testimony.

"Kim Bell, she wasn't as sure in her answers and she seemed to be attacking Barry instead of just giving her own honest testimony," said a juror.

With Steve Hoskins, Bonds' friend who had a number of recordings alleging the use of steroids, the jury found there were a lot of inconsistencies there, too.

Kathy Hoskins, a good friend of Bonds who said she saw Anderson inject him, was without a doubt, the most credible witness according to the jury. But when it came to being sure that Bonds knowingly took steroids, jurors could not agree.

"The positive tests showed us that there was definitely steroid use. It does not prove to you that he knew he was being given steroids because those steroids, THG for instance, these were not given by an injection," said the jury foreman. "So they can be given through other means."

"The evidence that he did steroids might have been there, but did he knowingly do steroids was the question," said another juror. "We couldn't prove that beyond a reasonable doubt."

When asked what prosecutors would need to do next time around if Bonds were to be tried again, the foreman said, "This cost the citizens a lot of money to bring him to court, so it's really up to the court if they can really prove their case; they're going to have to even do more homework than they already did."

Some of the jurors believe the prosecution should retry Bonds. The problem with this jury, they say, was that some of them were adamant no matter what information they received, no matter what you told them, they would not change their minds. At times, they found deliberations very frustrating, three of them every cried at one point.

Jurors say they are glad that it's over and they feel that they have done their work.

Members of the jury chose not to give their full names to reporters.

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