Testimony concludes in Clemens perjury trial

Mon Jun 11, 2012 6:33pm EDT

1 of 6. Former Major League pitcher Roger Clemens (R) and his wife Debbie (2nd R), walk behind his attorney Rusty Hardin (front) as they arrive for the continuation of his perjury trial at U.S. Federal Court in Washington, June 11, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

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(Reuters) - Lawyers in the perjury trial of former Major League Baseball pitching ace Roger Clemens finished presenting evidence on Monday, setting the stage for the jury to begin deliberations on Tuesday after nearly two months of testimony.

Clemens, 49, is on trial for the second time on federal charges of lying in 2008 to the House of Representatives' Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which was investigating drug use in Major League Baseball.

Clemens, who won 354 regular-season games and is a record seven-time winner of the yearly Cy Young Award as best pitcher, did not testify on his own behalf during the trial.

He is among the biggest names implicated in drug use in baseball.

The trial, which was expected to last six weeks, is now in its ninth week.

The last defense witness, former New York Yankees' security chief Jerry Laveroni, attacked the credibility of Clemens' former trainer Brian McNamee, whose testimony has been the core of the government's case.

Laveroni knew McNamee when Clemens played for the Yankees.

Clemens' lawyers alleged that McNamee asked Laveroni to destroy evidence related to an alleged rape at the Yankees' team hotel in St. Petersburg, Florida, in 2001.

"I don't believe (McNamee) could be believed under oath," Laveroni said. He was not allowed to speak in court about the specifics of the incident in Florida.

McNamee, Clemens' former strength coach, has testified he personally administered shots of anabolic steroids and human growth hormone to Clemens between 1998 and 2001.

He said he kept needles, cotton balls, a broken steroid ampoule and other medical waste for years. Prosecutors have said some of the items contain Clemens' DNA and traces of steroids.

Clemens' lawyers have worked to paint McNamee as a liar who obtained immunity in exchange for his testimony.

DEFENSE SAYS SUCCESS DUE TO HARD WORK

The defense team have sought to depict Clemens as a hard worker whose stunning late-career success was the product of dedication and smart pitching, not performance-enhancing drugs.

Clemens won his final Cy Young Award in 2004 - the summer he turned 42 - in his first season with the Houston Astros.

After resting their case, defense lawyers read aloud a statement agreed upon between the defense and prosecution, noting that under professional baseball measures, Clemens had been tested randomly for anabolic steroids between 2003 and 2007 and had never tested positive.

He was not tested for human growth hormone.

Prosecutors mounted a rebuttal after the defense team rested its case.

Cynthia Morris-Kukowski, an FBI toxicologist, testified that it was not the job of a scientist to give his or her opinion about the reliability of evidence but only to study the material.

Her testimony was aimed at undermining that of a forensic toxicologist and defense witness who said earlier that medical waste used as proof Clemens received performance-enhancing drugs was "lacking" because of the risk of contamination.

A key element of the government's case includes the two cotton balls and a needle McNamee says came from an injection he gave to Clemens. The prosecution says forensic experts have identified DNA from these which they believe belongs to Clemens as well as evidence of steroids.

McNamee has admitted that the items, which he said had been stuffed in a Miller Lite beer can and a FedEx box, were kept in the same place as medical waste from injections of other baseball players.

The prosecution and defense will make closing statements on Tuesday before the jury begins deliberating on what they have head from 46 witnesses.

Since the first days of testimony, two jurors have been dismissed for falling asleep, while the judge overseeing the case has warned lawyers about the slow pace.

(Reporting by Lily Kuo; editing by Dan Burns, Jim Loney and David Brunnstrom)

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