WASHINGTON — David Segui remembered “darts” but not dates.
The former major leaguer testified for the prosecution Thursday in the Roger Clemens perjury trial, and he would have made a much better witness if he kept a better mental calendar. As it was, Segui was able to recall one specific moment that helped the government’s case: a telephone conversation he says he had with Clemens’ strength coach 11 years ago.
“He mentioned that he had kept darts to get his wife off his back,” Segui said.
With those words, Segui echoed the testimony of the six-week-old trial’s key witness. Brian McNamee told the jury last week that he saved a needle and other materials from an alleged steroids injection of Clemens in 2001. McNamee testified he was trying to allay his wife’s fears he would take all the blame if the drug use was discovered.
“He mentioned that the relationship between Brian and Roger had put stress on his married life. … Coming and going … leaving at the drop of a hat to go train,” said Segui, recalling other parts of the conversation.
Segui, who has acknowledged using performance-enhancing drugs during his 15-year baseball career with seven teams, wasn’t allowed to say that “darts” means “needles.” The judge ruled that the jurors will have to make that assumption themselves — unless McNamee were to return to the stand to explain.
Segui, who became friends with McNamee when they met in Toronto during the 1999 season, also wasn’t allowed to relate a second, similar “darts” conversation because he couldn’t remember when it happened. He was certain it occurred before the publication of the 2007 Mitchell Report on drug use in sports, but that wasn’t good enough for U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton.
“You are to disregard the question,” the judge told the jurors, who had been ushered from the courtroom as the lawyers debated the matter.
“I’m not good with dates. I don’t log my life,” said Segui, who also couldn’t remember at what point during the ’99 season he was traded from Seattle to Toronto.
Clemens is charged with lying to Congress in 2008 when he denied using steroids and human growth hormone. McNamee says he injected Clemens with both substances and saved some of the waste from the 2001 injection in a beer can.
Clemens’ lawyers have implied that McNamee conjured up the evidence after becoming the subject of federal and Mitchell Report investigators in 2007. Segui’s testimony was allowed by the judge because it appears to contradict that argument, a significant victory for the prosecution. Another witness, former McNamee workout client Anthony Corso, is expected to give similar testimony Friday as the government wraps up its case.
Segui, whom the government portrayed as a reluctant witness, said under cross-examination that McNamee didn’t attach a specific name to the “darts,” but that he knew McNamee was training Clemens at the time.
“All I know is what I was told over the phone,” said Segui, raising his hands as if to pantomime pushing away. “I didn’t see it, didn’t ask to see it.”
The jurors wanted to know more, especially about the second conversation that Segui wasn’t allowed to recall. At least one juror submitted a written question about that conversation. That prompted the judge to admonish the panel: “I’ve legally ruled that is not before you.”
Segui was a colorful witness: He said baseball was “prehistoric” because “they’re still doing jumping jacks.” He was quite a contrast to Thursday’s three other witnesses — experts with lengthy credentials who used big words over agonizingly tedious hours of testimony.
FBI forensic examiner Pamela Reynolds and Jeremy Price, who used to work in the nonprofit Anti-Doping Research laboratory, revealed what the jury must have suspected all along — that the beer can evidence does indeed contain traces of steroids.
Price also said the items he tested did not show any traces of a popular type of the vitamin B12 or the anesthetic Lidocaine. Clemens has said he was given injections of B12 and Lidocaine by McNamee, instead of steroids and HGH.
Clemens’ lawyers did not dispute the experts’ findings, but they again suggested under cross-examination that the evidence was fabricated by McNamee and contaminated by the way it was stored — kept for several years in a FedEx box in the strength coach’s house.
Defense lawyer Michael Attanasio asked whether Price would be concerned if evidence were kept in a “private residence for six or seven years.” Price danced around an answer by saying it “depends on what kind of sample.”
Attanasio also posed a hypothetical: If he had a syringe with B12, used it, cleaned it out and then put in steroids, would the test reveal the B12?
Price said he didn’t know.
Attanasio also made it clear that the experts couldn’t say who, if anyone, used the steroids. The government will offer its evidence for that connection Friday, when forensic scientist Alan Keel, who was using terms such as “heterozygote” and “homozygote” as the clock approached 5 p.m., returns to the stand. He’s expected to say Clemens’ DNA was found on the materials McNamee saved.