Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

May 8, 2012

Clemens trial slows to crawl despite judge's pleas

WASHINGTON — The Roger Clemens perjury trial, which picked up a couple of miles per hour on its fastball last week with Andy Pettitte's testimony, has dropped back to a slow-pitch pace this week.

Prosecutors, who had said they might have star witness Brian McNamee testify Tuesday, now say there's no chance of that, and he might not even appear this week. And that was after U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton told both sides to speed things along.

"I do have concerns about the pace of this trial," Walton said Monday morning at the beginning of the trial's fourth week. Walton complained that there were a lot of unnecessary questions last week and warned, "if that continues, I will impose time limits."

Clemens, a seven-time winner of baseball's Cy Young Award, is accused of lying to Congress when he denied using steroids and human growth hormone.

Monday's session was dominated by painstaking discussions about needles, syringes, gauze and cotton balls, how they had been stored and who had control of them. McNamee, Clemens' former strength coach, has said he saved those items from when he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone.

The two government witnesses Monday were federal agents Jeff Novitzky of the Food and Drug Administration and John Longmire of the FBI. Novitzky began investigating connections between drugs and sports as an agent with the Internal Revenue Service.

Novitzky encouraged McNamee to cooperate with former Sen. George Mitchell, who was investigating performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, and Mitchell eventually identified Clemens as a user in his report to Major League Baseball.

"We thought it was a good idea for Brian McNamee to cooperate with Mitchell," Novitzky said, because government officials were concerned that kids were emulating pro players who were using steroids and HGH.

Clemens' lawyers focused on the condition of the evidence when it was handed over to authorities by McNamee, emphasizing a photo of the items bunched in a bag with a beer can rather than the photos of the items neatly arranged for classification once they were in the hands of the IRS and later the FBI.

Clemens' lawyer Michael Attanasio asked FBI agent Longmire about keeping evidence in a beer can.

"I would not," Longmire said.

Why not?

"That's not what they trained us to do," the FBI agent responded.

The government is expected to show that Clemens' DNA was found among the items. Clemens' lawyers claim the evidence was tainted or contaminated.

Meanwhile, defense lawyers tried to capitalize on Pettitte's wavering testimony for the government. Last week, Pettitte had testified that Clemens told him he had tried HGH, only to say under cross-examination that he might have misunderstood Clemens. As expected, Clemens' lawyers filed a motion asking that the jury not be allowed to consider the conversation between the two pitchers.

Pettitte said it was "fair" to say that there was a 50 percent chance he misunderstood Clemens, his friend and one-time mentor.

"The court should not allow the jury to consider an alleged 'admission' that has all the weight of a coin flip," Clemens' lawyers wrote in the filing. The government is expected to respond with a filing of its own before the judge rules.

Also Monday, Walton ruled that prosecutors could not play for the jury a clip of a 2008 Clemens' "60 Minutes" television interview in which he says he was advised by counsel not to talk to Mitchell.

After the interview aired, Clemens testified to Congress that he didn't know that Mitchell wanted to talk to him. Prosecutors wanted to show the "60 Minutes" clip in an attempt to show Clemens was obstructing Congress, arguing the two statements were contradictory. But Walton said the clip could not be played without interfering with Clemens' attorney-client privilege.

The judge also said it was possible Clemens was told generally by lawyers not to talk to Mitchell, without their actually informing the pitcher that Mitchell wanted to talk to him.

___

AP Sports Writer Joseph White contributed to this report.

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