SAN FRANCISCO — The jurors who will decide Barry Bonds’ fate filed back into the courtroom with their first question Friday, and it was one that had to make prosecutors happy.
“We request the following,” U.S. District Judge Susan Illston said, reading their note aloud. “The full written transcript of the Steve Hoskins-Greg Anderson digital tape recording from 2003.”
In that secretly recorded conversation at the San Francisco Giants ballpark, the slugger’s just-fired business partner and his then-personal trainer discuss steroids, injections and drug testing. Prosecutors used the tape in an attempt to convince jurors that the greatest home-run hitter in major league history had to know he was taking performance-enhancing drugs.
That request and another one later, to hear the testimony of Steve Hoskins’ sister, Kathy, were the two moments the jury reached out from its first day of deliberations. Each question involved some of the prosecution’s best evidence against the home run king.
The panel worked about seven hours, including lunch and breaks, before adjourning until Monday.
Illston refused to give jurors the full transcript of the Hoskins-Anderson tape, because one wasn’t placed in evidence during the trial that began March 21. But she allowed them to rehear the portions of the recording that were first played for them on March 23 and replayed Thursday during the prosecution’s closing.
“Everything that I’ve been doing at this point, it’s all undetectable,” Anderson said on the tape. “See, the stuff that I have … we created it. And you can’t, you can’t buy it anywhere. You can’t get it anywhere else.”
Anderson, who was sent to prison March 22 because he refused to testify in the Bonds case, was released Friday because the trial was over.
Even without taking the witness stand he was a big presence in the courtroom. On the recording, made by Hoskins, Anderson talks of injecting Bonds. Anderson says he doesn’t use one spot, “I move it all over the place” in order to avoid cysts.
Both the prosecution and defense played portions of the recording during the trial, but only the prosecution showed jurors a transcript that allowed them to follow the often-muffled sounds. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Nedrow handed out transcripts again Friday while the government portion was played back. When the defense portion was replayed, most of the jurors still were looking do wn at the prosecution transcript. They were not allowed to take the transcript to the jury room.
While the prosecution also read along, Bonds and his lawyers focused on the jurors, trying to pick up any signals. The 46-year-old former MVP, dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and striped tie, seemed more fidgety than he had been during the trial.
Illston told the jury late Friday that Kathy Hoskins’ testimony will be read back to them when deliberations resume Monday. Hoskins was Bonds’ personal shopper and claims to have seen Anderson inject him with an unknown substance in the navel in 2002.
Bonds is charged with three counts of making false statements to a grand jury in 2003 for denying he knowingly received steroids and human growth hormone from Anderson, and for saying he only allowed doctors to give him injections. He also faces one count of obstruction of justice over those three statements and four others he made to the grand jury that the prosecutors see as misleading or evasive.
Jurors have been very attentive in this high-profile case, the culmination of a federal investigation into the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) that began in 2002. BALCO turned out to be the center of a steroids distribution ring, and Anderson was among the participants.
Each count against Bonds carries a possible sentence of 10 years in prison, but federal guidelines indicate a recommended total sentence of 15 to 21 months. For similar offenses earlier in the BALCO case, Illston punished two people with home confinement.
The foreman of the eight-woman, four-man jury was not announced, but the panel seemed to look to a middle-aged man seated in the first row of the jury box for guidance when Illston told them of the Hoskins tape: “The written transcript was not and is not in evidence. The evidence in the case is the digital record, so we can, if that’s what you want, play it again, in open court.”
Many jurors quickly nodded and said yes.
Two miles away, the Giants — the team Bonds was with when he became one of the most-feared hitters of his time — were playing their home opener at AT&T Park and Hall of Famer Willie Mays was presenting manager Bruce Bochy with folded up World Series championship flag.
And just as the hearing was ending, Major League Baseball announced Tampa Bay Rays slugger Manny Ramirez was retiring. Ramirez made the decision rather than be suspended for 100 games following a second positive drug test, a person familiar with the events that led to the announcement said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the positive test was not announced.
Prosecutors presented just one piece of direct evidence against Bonds, Kathy Hoskins’ eyewitness testimony about Bonds getting the injection at his Bay Area home. But they pointed to much circumstantial evidence.
Steve Hoskins said he saw Anderson, who had a syringe with a needle, walk into the master bedroom at Bonds’ spring training home along with the player several times and then lock the door. Former AL MVP Jason Giambi and three other players testified they knowingly received drugs from Anderson.
Bonds told the grand jury he used steroids provided by Anderson, but that the trainer told him they were flaxseed oil and arthritis cream. Prosecutors claim that “little lie” that was an attempt to hide the “big lie” that Bonds achieved his season (73) and career (762) home runs records with the help of performance-enhancing drugs.
Late in the day, Illston instructed the jurors — at the behest of the defense — that Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Parrella misspoke during his closing argument when he said former Giants Head Athletic Trainer Stan Conte testified that Harvey Shields, another Bonds trainer, used flaxseed oil on the player all the time. Conte never made that claim.