Wednesday, December 11, 2013
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Former baseball star Roger Clemens was acquitted Monday on all charges that he obstructed and lied to Congress when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs as a fast-balling pitcher.
Former Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens, left, leaves federal court in Washington with son Kacy, right, Tuesday, June 12, 2012. A jury has found Clemens not guilty on all charges. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
The trial was lengthy, the deliberations relatively brief. Jurors returned their verdict after close to 10 hours over several days. The outcome ended a 10-week trial that capped an expensive, five-year investigation into one of the greatest pitchers in the history of baseball.
Shortly after the verdict was read, Clemens and his family engaged in hugs in the courtroom including one large group hug. At one point, wife Debbie Clemens dabbed Roger Clemens' eyes with a tissue.
Clemens, 49, was charged with two counts of perjury, three counts of making false statements and one count of obstructing Congress when he testified at a deposition and at a nationally televised hearing in February 2008. The charges centered on his repeated denials that he used steroids and human growth hormone during a 24-year career produced 354 wins and a record seven Cy Young Awards.
The verdict was the latest blow to the government's legal pursuit of athletes accused of illicit drug use.
A seven-year investigation into home run king Barry Bonds yielded a guilty verdict on only one count of obstruction of justice in a San Francisco court last year, with the jury deadlocked on whether Bonds lied to a grand jury when he denied knowingly taking performance-enhancing drugs.
A two-year, multicontinent investigation that looked into possible drug use by cyclist Lance Armstrong was recently closed with no charges brought, though the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency filed formal accusations last week that could strip the seven-time Tour de France winner of his victories in that storied race. Armstrong denies any doping
The Clemens outcome also comes on the heels of the Department of Justice's failure to gain a conviction in the high-profile corruption trial of former presidential candidate John Edwards.
In addition, the first attempt to try Clemens last year ended in a mistrial when prosecutors played a snippet of video evidence that had previously been ruled inadmissible.
The government's case relied heavily on the testimony of Clemens' longtime strength coach, Brian McNamee, who testified he injected Clemens with steroids in 1998, 2000 and 2001 and with HGH in 2000. McNamee produced a needle and other materials he said were from a steroids injection of Clemens in 2001, items that McNamee said he stored in and around a Miller Lite beer can inside a FedEx box for some six years.
But McNamee was the only person to claim firsthand knowledge of Clemens using steroids and HGH, and even prosecutors conceded their star witness was a "flawed man." Clemens' lawyers relentlessly attacked McNamee's credibility and integrity. They pointed out that his story had changed over the years and implied that he conjured up the allegations against Clemens to placate federal investigators.
Some items associated with the beer can were found to have Clemens' DNA and steroids, but the defense called the evidence "garbage" and claimed it had been contaminated or manipulated by McNamee.
Other evidence offered tenuous links between Clemens and performance-enhancing drugs. Former teammate Andy Pettitte recalled a conversation in which Clemens supposedly admitted using HGH, but Pettitte said under cross-examination that there was a "50-50" chance that he had misheard.
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