Barry Bonds' obstruction conviction thrown out by appeals court

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Barry Bonds' obstruction of justice conviction has been reversed by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals,. (KGO-TV )

A federal appeals court in San Francisco on Wednesday overturned former San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds' conviction for obstructing justice in 2003 testimony before a grand jury investigating steroid distribution.

A special 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said by a 10-1 vote that there was insufficient evidence that a statement alleged by prosecutors to be misleading was material to the grand jury probe.

The obstruction verdict was Bonds' only conviction in a prosecution that began in 2007. At his trial in U.S. District Court in San Francisco in 2011, a jury deadlocked on three other charges that he lied to the grand jury.

Barry Bonds: Humbled, thankful conviction overturned

Other charges against Bonds, 50, were dropped or dismissed before the trial.

Bonds issued a statement Wednesday saying in part, "I am humbled and truly thankful for the outcome, as well as the opportunity our judicial system affords to all individuals to seek justice," he said.

Some call AT&T Park the house that Barry built, arguing that Bonds'barrage of home runs and MVP seasons provided the sizzle the Giants needed at that time, to allow them to build their own ballpark.

People at AT&T Park Wednesday were eager to forgive Bonds and move on.

"Good for Barry, I'm happy for him. I'm glad it's getting resolved so he can move on," said Giants coach Bruce Bochy.

"It's been long enough," said one fan.

In the statement at issue in the conviction, Bonds called himself the "celebrity child" of a baseball-playing father when asked whether his trainer, Greg Anderson, had given him anything to inject himself with.

The appeals court majority said, "During a grand jury proceeding, defendant gave a rambling, non-responsive answer to a simple question. Because there is insufficient evidence that Statement C was material, defendant's conviction for obstruction of justice ... is not supported by the record."

The court concluded, "His conviction and sentence must therefore be vacated, and he may not be tried again on that count."

The grand jury was investigating the distribution of performance-enhancing drugs by the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO. Ten other athletes, trainers, BALCO officials and a chemist were convicted or pleaded guilty to various charges as a result of the probe.

Victor Conte is the founder and CEO of SNAC Systems Inc. He was sent to prison for manufacturing steroids and says he is happy Bonds can now get on with his life.

"There have been tens of millions of dollars spent on this case. I think there are higher and better uses of the federal taxpayer dollars. I'm glad to see it come to a close," Conte said.

While playing with the San Francisco Giants from 1993 to 2007, Bonds set the Major League Baseball career home run record of 762, as well as the single-season record of 73 in 2001.

Bonds and his team of six lawyers appealed for and obtained a rare review by an 11-judge panel after a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit upheld his conviction.

He has already served his sentence of one month of home confinement. According to his lawyers, he wanted to continue the appeal to clear his name.

Bonds has been more active in the past year with the Giants. He attended spring training as an instructor and helped younger players with their batting.

Scott Ostler a longtime sports columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle said he's not surprised this happened and felt the conviction was unfair.

"I've known him over the years and I've never heard him give an answer that was not roundabout or evasive, it's just the way he talks," Ostler said. "I don't think he was trying to break any law, I think he was just being Barry."

Ostler said he will vote for Bonds for entrance into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The case may not be over because the Department of Justice can still appeal the ruling all the way to the United States Supreme Cournt.

Click here to take a look at archived stories about Barry Bonds.

Bay City News contributed to this report.
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sportssteroidsbarry bondsSan Francisco Giantscourt9th u.s. circuit court of appealsu.s. & worldSan Francisco
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