- Associated Press - Thursday, April 7, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The eight women and four men sat in the jury box for more than 4 1/2 hours, listening to angry arguments from federal prosecutors and Barry Bonds‘ attorneys at the end of a 12-day trial that exposed the dark world of baseball’s Steroids Era.

Now, Bonds‘ fate is up to them.

After listening to tawdry accusations of drug use, theft and body parts that grew (Bonds‘ head) and shrank (his testicles), the 12-member panel gets to decide whether the home run king will become a convicted felon.

Bonds‘ trial on charges he lied to a grand jury more than seven years ago when he denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs ended Thursday with closing arguments from both sides that were filled with virulence and self-righteousness.

“There’s a real irony to this case,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Parrella concluded. “These substances that the defendant took to make himself strong _ he wasn’t strong. He was weak. He was too weak to tell the truth despite all the anabolic steroids.”

And with that, at 3:51 p.m. PDT, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston turned to the jury box and said: “At this point ladies and gentlemen, we’re turning it over to you.”

The jury’s first order of business when it starts deliberations Friday _ the day the World Series flag is raised at nearby AT&T Park, home of Bonds‘ San Francisco Giants _ is to elect a foreman. Then it must sort through the testimony of 25 witnesses and hundreds of exhibits that include syringes, vials and dizzying computer graphs of drug tests.

A seven-time MVP regarded as among the greatest hitters ever, Bonds is charged with three counts of making false statements and one count of obstruction of justice. His lawyers ridiculed the prosecution as being celebrity obsessed and willing to cut deals with anyone who would implicate perhaps the top player of his generation.

“It’s part of an effort to demonize Barry Bonds, and it’s very wrong,” lead defense lawyer Allen Ruby said.

Cristina Arguedas, another of Bonds‘ attorneys, repeatedly took off her glasses and pointed them contemptuously at Jeff Novitzky, the tall, bald federal investigator who was seated at the prosecution table.

“They have the power to end careers and to ruin lives,” she said to the jury, her voice quavering. “And nobody gets to test that evidence unless they have the wherewithal and internal strength to come to a jury trial _ to you.”

Bonds is charged with lying when he denied knowingly receiving steroids and human growth hormone from personal trainer Greg Anderson and for saying he allowed only doctors to inject him. An obstruction count lists four additional statements the government alleges were made to evade or mislead the grand jury.

Each count carries a possible sentence of 10 years in prison, but federal guidelines indicate a recommended total sentence of 15 to 21 months. For convictions for similar offenses in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) case, Illston sentenced two people to home confinement.

Bonds doesn’t dispute that he took steroids but testified to the grand jury that Anderson told him they were flaxseed oil and arthritic balm. Parrella, in his 51-minute rebuttal that ended the trial, compared that to a teenager who arrives home glassy eyed on a Saturday night and tells his parents “I went to a bar and they told me it was just Coke.”

Parrella said Bonds‘ plan at the grand jury was to “sell the little lie and hide the big lie” that his exploits _ including the record for home runs in a season (73 in 2001) and, later, in a career (762) _ were built on steroids.

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