- Associated Press - Thursday, April 14, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Barry Bonds stepped outside the Phillip Burton Federal Building for the first time as a convicted felon, and a school bus went by. The home-run king flashed a victory sign with two fingers.

After a 12-day trial and four days of deliberation, a jury had deadlocked on three charges he lied under oath. But Bonds was convicted on one count of obstruction of justice.

“Are you celebrating tonight?” one fan asked.

“There’s nothing to celebrate,” Bonds replied.

A mixed and muddled verdict Wednesday left both prosecutors and the defense feeling sorry-grateful.

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 he never knowingly received steroids and human growth hormone from trainer Greg Anderson and he allowed only doctors to inject him.

But a trial that had all to do with performance-enhancing drugs ended with a conviction that had nothing to do with them. The count the jury agreed on stated Bonds gave an evasive answer under oath. 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.”

Though unsatisfied, both sides expressed a fraction of fulfillment following a trial that uncovered the dark practices of baseball’s Steroids Era.

“The counts which alleged steroids, which alleged needles, which alleged human growth hormone, those were mistried,” lead defense lawyer Allen Ruby said as Bonds, with a few days of stubble on his chin, stood slightly behind him and to the side. “There was no conviction, no verdict, no finding adverse to Barry Bonds.”

Melinda Haag, the U.S. Attorney in San Francisco, focused on the one count where the jury of eight women and four men was unanimous the government had proven its allegations beyond a reasonable doubt.

“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,” she 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.”

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 is worth the time and expense to try Bonds for a second time on the deadlocked charges.

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 announced a May 20 date for a status conference.

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.

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