WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The estranged wife of the main prosecution witness in Roger Clemens’ perjury trial teared up on Thursday while defending her testimony contradicting her husband’s explanation for saving medical waste later presented as proof the retired pitching ace used drugs.
Clemens, 49, is on trial for a second time on federal charges of lying to a U.S. congressional committee in 2008 when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs. The House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform was investigating drug use in Major League Baseball at the time.
Clemens’ first trial ended in a mistrial last year.
Brian McNamee, Clemens’ ex-trainer, 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 waste for years, items of which prosecutors say contain Clemens’ DNA.
The former strength and conditioning coach said last month he turned the waste over to federal agents after Clemens made his son’s chronic illness public in January 2008 by playing a 17-minute tape of a phone call with McNamee at a Houston news conference. McNamee’s son has diabetes.
“Can I have a break, please?” Eileen McNamee, a defense witness, said when prosecutors began to ask her about the episode. She left the stand in tears.
Later in the day, Clemens wife, Debbie, took the stand and was expected to testify on Friday about allegations she received an injection of human growth hormone from Brian McNamee before she posed for a Sports Illustrated magazine photo shoot in 2003.
On Thursday, she described how her husband’s professional baseball career had affected them and their four sons.
The two wives’ testimony came on the final days of Clemens’ defense in a legal case involving one of the biggest names implicated in drug use in baseball.
Clemens’ defense may rest its case on Friday in the trial, now in its eighth week.
Clemens won 354 regular-season games and is a record seven-time winner of the yearly Cy Young Award as the best pitcher in his league.
‘ANGRY AS CAN BE’
Clemens’ attorneys have worked to paint Brian McNamee as a liar who obtained immunity in exchange for his testimony and sought to target his former friend.
Eileen McNamee testified on Wednesday that she never urged her husband to protect himself by saving the medical waste and that he never spoke to her of injecting Clemens with drugs before 2007. The couple separated several years ago.
Her testimony contradicted Brian McNamee’s claims that he saved and showed his wife the medical waste to quiet her fears that he would “go down” for the pitcher’s alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs.
On Thursday, prosecutors sought to question Eileen McNamee’s credibility by focusing on the couple’s relationship problems.
“It’s fair to say you’re still angry as can be at your husband?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Courtney Saleski asked Eileen McNamee when she returned to the stand.
“Yes,” McNamee said and agreed with Saleski that her husband had put his work with Clemens and life in baseball before his family.
Clemens’ lawyers have sought to depict Clemens as a hard-working pitcher 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.
Jury deliberations could begin next week, the judge for the case has said.
Reporting by Lily Kuo; Editing by Peter Cooney