The jury in the perjury case of legendary pitcherÂ Roger ClemensÂ completed its deliberations Monday afternoon. The verdict is expected to be delivered shortly in a packed courtroom in the Districtâ€™s federal court.
Over seven weeks of testimony in the case against Clemens, jurors heard from more than 40 witnesses, including former major league ballplayers, a housekeeper, the general manager of the New York Yankees and the wife of the star pitcher. The trial, initially anticipated to last four to six weeks, was at times slow going, with two jurors dismissed for sleeping on the job.
DeliberationsÂ began Tuesday, but jurors were off on Thursday and Friday.
The baseball legend wasÂ on trial for a second time, charged with six counts of perjury, making false statements and obstructing Congress forÂ denying in 2008that he had ever taken steroids or human growth hormone. A House panel was following up on a 2007 report by former senator George Mitchell that connected dozens of ballplayers, including Clemens, to performance-enhancing drugs.
Clemens told Congressional staffers and lawmakers in a nationally televised hearing that his former strength coach Brian McNamee had injected him with liquid vitamin B 12 and the painkiller lidocaine â€“ not steroids or human growth hormone. But McNamee told the same House committee that he injected the seven-time Cy Young Award winner with the banned substances on several occasions in 1998, 2000 and 2001.
DefenseÂ attorneys portrayed ClemensÂ as a man who was unfairly pursued by a huge team of investigators and prosecutors for four and a half years. Despite more than 200 interviews and the work of more than 90 federal agents, Clemensâ€™s attorney emphasized that McNamee, a man with a troubled past, was the only person to testify to firsthand knowledge of the ballplayerâ€™s alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs. Clemensâ€™s highly decorated 24-year career was the result of hard work and discipline, not drugs, his lawyers said.
Prosecutors responded that it was unremarkable to find just one witness to what they described as Clemensâ€™s â€œdirty little secret.â€ Governmentâ€™s lawyers noted that not one of the defenseâ€™s witnesses had testified to seeing McNamee inject Clemens with vitamin B-12 or lidocaine. And they put on the stand several athletic trainers and team doctors who testified that McNamee would not have had access or the authority to inject the star pitcher with such substances in their team clubhouses.
The defense team spent considerable time attacking McNameeâ€™s credibility, at one point putting his estranged wife on the witness stand to contradict the former strength coachâ€™s testimony about why he kept needles, cotton balls and other medical waste from the alleged injections. The former strength coach admitted to having exaggerated, changed his story and lied to authorities in a 2001 criminal investigation into an alleged sexual assault.
But prosecutors said McNamee had little incentive to turn on his former employer whose cachet helped McNameeâ€™s own business as a personal trainer. McNamee only decided to turn over the medical waste â€” stored in a MillerLite can and FedEx box, he said â€” after Clemens allowed a taped conversation that mentioned McNameeâ€™s sick child to be aired on national television.
Perhaps the most dramatic moment of the trial came when Clemensâ€™s former teammate and friend, Andy Pettitte,Â backed away from a critical elementÂ of the prosecutionâ€™s case. Pettitte, a star pitcher in his own right, initially told jurors that Clemens confided in him in 1999 or 2000 about using HGH to help with recovery. Pettitte had earlier told Congressional investigators the same story. But on cross-examination, Pettitte agreed with one of Clemensâ€™s attorneys, Michael Attanasio, that there was a 50/50 chance he had misheard his friend.
Even before the trial began, many of the Washingtonians called to the Prettyman Courthouse for jury duty questioned the wisdom of the government investigating the use of performance-enhancing drugs in big league baseball. In interviews with the judge, many prospective jurors â€” including some selected for the panel â€” said that Congress should have been spending its time on weightier matters that affected more people.
In reaching a verdict, the panel of eight women and four men had to decide whether Clemensâ€™s answers to questions from Congressional investigators and lawmakers were â€œmaterialâ€ or relevant to the work of committee â€œas distinguished from unimportant or trivial facts,â€ according to the lengthy jury instructions.
To find Clemens guilty of the obstruction charge, for instance, jurors had to unanimously agree that the all-star pitcher made at least one of 13 allegedly false or misleading statements on subjects including his use of vitamin B-12 and the circumstances of his wifeâ€™s injection of human growth hormone.
In July, during the pitcherâ€™s first trial on the same charges,Â Walton declared a mistrialÂ after just two days of testimony. But the judge subsequently decided not to dismiss the charges, allowing this yearâ€™s trial to proceed.