Bonds pleads not guilty to lying

February 5, 2009 6:20:36 PM PST
Former Giants slugger Barry Bonds made two federal court appearances Thursday in the case that accuses him of lying about using steroids. His trial is supposed to begin in less than a month, and the questions Thursday were about evidence the defense wants excluded.

Barry Bonds arrived at federal court in San Francisco on Thursday to enter a not guilty plea for the third time to revised perjury charges against him. After that, at a separate hearing, Judge Susan Illston said she's inclined to agree with Bonds' lawyers that much of the evidence against him should not be allowed in the trial.

"There is no proof of a sufficient chain or linkage or whatever term you want to use, to dignify these items with admission into evidence," said defense attorney Allen Ruby.

Three positive steroid tests, and what appear to be doping calendars and logs, are all tied directly to Bonds' personal trainer Greg Anderson. Anderson is not expected to agree to testify, and without him, that evidence usually would not be allowed in.

Prosecutors weren't talking Thursday. They are trying to find exceptions to that rule, but the judge was not swayed, saying, "Absent testimony, the documents are not hooked up to this case."

"The prosecution in its papers said, 'We're relying on new theories of law, we're stretching the existing law,' and I think Judge Illston said, 'You're not only stretching it, you're stretching it to the breaking point,'" said ABC7 News legal consultant Dean Johnson.

The judge says she is leaning toward allowing a secretly taped 2003 locker room recording between Anderson and Bonds' former personal assistant, Steve Hoskins. Prosecutors say it shows Bonds was using steroids.

However, the defense says Hoskins made the tape to blackmail Bonds because he was about to be investigated for stealing from the homerun king. Defense attorney Dennis Riordan told the judge that "there is no greater pit of mendacity than a men's locker room."

"Our defense is that Barry Bonds is innocent. That's our defense and we think that's the central fact of the case," said Ruby.

It is unclear when the judge will rule on the evidence. The trail is scheduled to begin March 2.