The federal judge who will preside over Roger Clemens' perjury trial said Tuesday he probably will not permit the pitcher's former teammates on the New York Yankees to give testimony aimed at bolstering the credibility of Clemens' former trainer, now a major prosecution witness.
A day before the trial's start, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton said at a hearing that statements from former Yankees Andy Pettite, Chuck Knoblauch and Mike Stanton that they received injections of performance-enhancing drugs from the trainer, Brian McNamee, could unfairly influence jurors.
Clemens is charged with perjury, false statements and obstruction of Congress for telling a House committee under oath that he never used steroids or human growth hormone during his 23-season career. The record-setting pitcher who once seemed a sure bet for baseball's Hall of Fame now could face prison if 12 jurors agree that he lied and unanimously agree to convict him.
Walton also said he is inclined to prevent Clemens' defense team from telling jurors about rape allegations against McNamee that did not result in charges. Rusty Hardin, Clemens' lead attorney, told Walton that the alleged rape is "inextricably bound to this entire case."
Clemens was in court for the pre-trial hearing but didn't speak. He stared ahead without taking notes like he did at previous proceedings and walked so quickly out of the courthouse, surrounded by media, that his attorney called for the seven-time Cy Young Award winner to slow down.
Clemens' main defense has been to discredit his former friend McNamee. Walton said Tuesday that telling jurors about an alleged rape that did not result in charges would be "extremely prejudicial," although he did not make a final ruling on these issues.
He also warned of a possible delay in the trial concerning the inability to obtain the audio of Clemens' deposition to House investigators in 2008. Both sides want the audio to be played in court, but the House office in charge of transcribing testimony has refused to part with the audio. However, a transcript is available.
The trial of the United States vs. William R. Clemens, expected to last four to six weeks, will bring a parade of celebrity athletes and plenty of sordid details to the Washington federal courthouse. It will feature testimony about illicit drugs, bloody evidence of injections, an abscess on Clemens' backside allegedly caused by steroid use and the allegations that his accuser is a serial liar and a rapist.
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