SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A U.S. jury convicted Barry Bonds on Wednesday of one count of obstructing justice but deadlocked on three other charges of whether baseball’s home run king lied to a grand jury investigating the use of steroids in sports.
Bonds, fighting for his reputation, sat impassively as the jury was dismissed. His attorney, Allen Ruby, said he would file a motion to dismiss the conviction. Bonds faces up to 10 years in prison on the conviction but would likely receive far less.
Attorney Melinda Haag said the government would decide “as soon as possible” whether to seek a retrial on the deadlocked perjury counts. District Judge Susan Illston called a conference for May 20 to discuss the next moves in the case.
The trial is one of the last strands of a wide-ranging federal investigation into the use of steroids in sports.
Many fans and sportswriters have long believed that Bonds, who holds Major League Baseball’s career and single-season home run records, took performance-enhancing drugs.
The steroids scandal has tarnished some of baseball’s biggest stars in recent years.
“(The verdict) basically confirms their belief that Bonds had taken shortcuts,” said Robert Boland, a professor at New York University’s Tisch Center for Sports Management.
“With Barry Bonds convicted and Roger Clemens likely coming to trial, there is some potential harm to the history of baseball. And the history of baseball is more valued than in any other sport,” he said.
Clemens, who was one of baseball’s greatest pitchers, has been indicted on charges of lying to the Congress when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs. He denies ever using steroids.
Jurors after the trial told reporters they were deadlocked 11-1 in favor of conviction on a charge that Bonds lied about being injected by someone other than his doctors.
They said they were more divided on two other counts of lying about using performance-enhancing drugs and were generally wary of believing witnesses hostile to Bonds, including his former mistress and an old friend who became a business associate.
To be convicted of lying to a grand jury, prosecutors had to prove Bonds knew his testimony was false and important to their steroids investigation, court documents show.
The standard is slightly different for obstruction of justice, where the government had to show Bonds’ answers were either false, evasive or misleading.
Responding to a question about whether his trainer, Greg Anderson, gave him a syringe for injections, Bonds said, “I’ve only had one doctor touch me.”
Bonds also described his friendship with Anderson as one that did not involve baseball. “That’s what keeps our friendship,” Bonds said.
Nineteen-year-old juror Amber, who did not give her last name, told reporters she was not satisfied with the responses.
“He was evasive and did not answer the question clearly,” she said.
Reporting by Laird Harrison, Dan Levine and Braden Reddall; Writing by Peter Henderson; Editing by Peter Cooney