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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Just like the whole Steroid Era: We’ll never really know.
Even the one charge that left Barry Bonds a convicted felon didn’t specify steroids.
Instead, a federal court jury found the home run king guilty of obstruction of justice Tuesday for giving an evasive answer under oath more than seven years ago. Rather than say “yes” or “no” to whether he received drugs that required a syringe, Bonds gave a rambling response to a grand jury, stating: “I became a celebrity child with a famous father.”
The decision from the eight women and four men who listened to testimony during the 12-day trial turned out to be a mixed and muddled verdict on the slugger that left more questions than answers.
U.S. District Judge Susan Illston declared a mistrial on the three charges that Bonds made false statements when he told a grand jury in December 2003 that he never knowingly received steroids and human growth hormone from trainer Greg Anderson and that he allowed only doctors to inject him.
Defense lawyers will try to persuade Illston or the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to toss out the lone conviction. Federal prosecutors must decide whether it’s worth the time and expense to try Bonds for a second time.
Less than two miles from the ballpark where he broke Hank Aaron’s career home run record in August 2007, Bonds walked out of the Phillip Burton Federal Building on a sunny, windy afternoon and looked on as his lead lawyer, Allen Ruby, held a sidewalk news conference. Ruby instructed Bonds not to comment because the case wasn’t over.
Impeccably dressed in black suit and purple necktie, with a few days of stubble on his chin, Bonds flashed a victory sign to a few fans.
“Are you celebrating tonight?” one asked.
“There’s nothing to celebrate,” he replied.
While Bonds stood on the sidewalk on the courthouse’s north side, the jurors — whose names are being withheld until Thursday — went out the south entrance and many lingered to answer questions. For now, they only would give their first names.
Amber, a 19-year-old blonde woman who was the youngest juror, said the final votes were 8-4 to acquit Bonds of lying about steroids and 9-3 to acquit him on lying about HGH use. The panel voted 11-1 to convict him of getting an injection from someone other than his doctor, with one woman holding out, she said.
Jurors decided to convict Bonds on the obstruction count Tuesday; Wednesday they decided they couldn’t come to undecisions on the rest.
There was initial confusion when the jury informed Illston’s clerk, Tracy Forakis, that they had reached a verdict, and the court made a public announcement. But when Forakis went back to the jury room, the panel said the verdict form wasn’t completed because there was a deadlock.