Judge limits players' testimony in Clemens case

WASHINGTON Thu Jul 7, 2011 4:58pm EDT

1 of 3. Former Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens arrives for the first day of his perjury trial, at the federal courthouse in Washington, July 6, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. judge overseeing the trial of former baseball star Roger Clemens ruled on Thursday that some baseball players likely will not be able to testify that a former trainer told them that he injected Clemens with steroids.

Clemens' defense team sought to exclude testimony that Clemens' personal trainer, Brian McNamee, told Andy Pettitte, David Segui and C.J. Nitkowski that he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormones and kept purported evidence.

They also sought to preclude any testimony by Pettitte's wife, Laura, that her husband told her about conversations with Clemens involving use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Judge Reggie Walton decided to allow such testimony only if Clemens' lawyers raised the issues during their defense. Then prosecutors could rebut such evidence by calling the witnesses, he ruled.

Clemens' lawyers also have objected to former players, including Pettitte, Chuck Knoblauch and Mike Stanton, testifying about receiving steroids from McNamee, arguing that the jury could unfairly assume a connection to Clemens.

Walton did not rule on that issue but said on Wednesday that it would be unfair not to allow prosecutors to bring in the testimony of the players to counter defense plans to portray McNamee as falsely concocting a scheme that implicated Clemens.

Jury selection has begun in the trial but is taking longer than expected. Opening statements likely will not take place until Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.

Clemens' defense lawyers have tried to portray McNamee as a liar who trumped up the allegations that Clemens used performance-enhancing drugs to distract from his own legal and financial problems.

Clemens, one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball from 1984 through 2007, repeatedly has denied using such drugs. He faces three counts of making false statements, two counts of perjury and one count of obstructing an investigation by the U.S. Congress into steroids use in baseball.

Clemens also has denied lying or obstructing Congress.

(Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky, James Vicini and Molly O'Toole; Editing by Bill Trott)

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