Bonds guilty of obstruction of justice

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Bonds leaned forward, looked at the clerk, but never reacted when the verdict was read. His mother, Pat, watched from a second-row bench.

“Divided, not unanimous,” on count one.

“Divided, not unanimous,” on count two.

“Divided, not unanimous,” on count three.

And then, just when it appeared Bonds would escape unscathed, came the final word from the jury:

“Guilty,” on obstruction of justice.

Dennis Riordan, one of the lawyers on Bonds‘ legal team that numbered as many as 13 some days, asked Illston to throw out the guilty verdict and for a new trial on that count. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Parrella asked the judge to set a sentencing date. Instead, Illston set a May 20 date for a status conference.

“This case is about upholding one of the most fundamental principles in our system of justice _ the obligation of every witness to provide truthful and direct testimony in judicial proceedings,” Melinda Haag, the U.S. attorney in San Francisco, said in a statement. “In the United States, taking an oath and promising to testify truthfully is a serious matter. We cannot ignore those who choose instead to obstruct justice. We will decide whether to seek a retrial of the defendant on the remaining counts as soon as possible.”

Now 46 and far trimmer than he appeared in the final years of his career, Bonds faces up to 10 years in prison on the obstruction conviction. Yet federal guidelines call for 15-21 months.

For similar offenses in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative steroids ring case, known as BALCO, Illston sentenced cyclist Tammy Thomas to six months of home confinement and track coach Trevor Graham to one year of home confinement.

Baseball’s season (73) and career (762) record-holder for home runs, Bonds testified before a grand jury that Anderson told him the substances he was giving Bonds were flaxseed oil and arthritic balm, and that Bonds didn’t know they were designer steroids.

“Did Greg ever give you anything that required a syringe to inject yourself with?” Bonds was asked.

His answer meandered, talking about his friendship with Anderson. The underlined part in the indictment, the crime he was convicted of, was this response: “That’s what keeps our friendship. You know, I am sorry, but that _ you know, that _ I was a celebrity child, not just in baseball by my own instincts. I became a celebrity child with a famous father. I just don’t get into other people’s business because of my father’s situation, you see.”

The jury instruction said that to be convicted, Bonds must be found to have “obstructed, influenced or impeded, or endeavored to obstruct, influence, or impede” the grand jury “by knowingly giving material testimony that was intentionally evasive, false or misleading.”

The defense plans to argue that Bonds‘ answer wasn’t relevant to the grand jury.

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