DNA expert links needle, cotton swabs to Clemens
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A DNA expert in the perjury trial of Roger Clemens testified he matched the former pitching ace's genetic profile to articles of medical waste kept by the trainer who claims he injected Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs.
Alan Keel, a DNA expert for Forensic Science Associates in California and a prosecution witness, said he found blood on a cotton ball and material that he believed was puss on another cotton ball that matched the genetic profile of Clemens. He also said he had found a small number of cells on a needle that also matched Clemens.
"This genetic profile is compatible with Mr. Clemens," he said referring to DNA found on the needle.
Keel said he was able to extract enough DNA from the waste to establish a genetic profile matching that of Clemens.
"I would expect this profile to be unique to only one person that has ever lived on the planet," Keel said.
Keel's testimony came as government prosecutors entered a final phase of arguments. The connection between Clemens and the medical waste is critical for the government, which is charging that the former pitching star lied under oath to a congressional panel in 2008 when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs.
The crux of the government's argument has been a batch of medical waste turned in to authorities in 2008 by Brian McNamee, Clemens' former strength and conditioning trainer. McNamee said the waste came from an injection of anabolic steroids he gave to Clemens in August 2001.
Clemens, 49, is being tried for a second time on federal charges of lying in 2008 to the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which was investigating drug use in Major League Baseball. His first trial ended last year in a mistrial.
On Thursday, two forensic analysts said they had found steroids on the items, some of which included needles, gauze, and a broken steroid ampoule that had been stuffed into a Miller Lite beer can.
Clemens' attorneys have already indicated they will argue that there is no way to tell how steroids got onto items connected to the pitcher.
They countered on Thursday that someone may have dripped steroids over the medical items and that chemicals in the batch of evidence could have mixed together, making it hard to tell whether steroids were on items connected to Clemens.
McNamee admitted last week that some of the medical waste was from other players.
Anthony Corso, a friend and a client of McNamee in New York, is another witness the government may call on Friday.
Between 2002 and 2004, McNamee allegedly told Corso that Clemens used human growth hormone "regularly" and that McNamee had saved evidence from 2001, according to a court document.
McNamee says he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormones from 1998 to 2001 and held onto used needles and other items to allay his wife's concerns that he would be the fall guy if the drug usage were discovered.
Testimony on Thursday from former Major League Baseball player David Segui bolstered McNamee's claim. The former first baseman who had trained with McNamee in Toronto said McNamee told him over the phone in 2001 that his relationship with Clemens was straining his marriage and that he had kept "darts," slang for needles, to "get her off his back."
Clemens, a seven-time winner of the Cy Young Award as best pitcher in his league, has said McNamee injected him with shots of vitamin B12 and the anesthetic lidocaine instead of performance-enhancing drugs.
(Reporting by Lily Kuo; Editing by Vicki Allen and Doina Chiacu)
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