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Feds get more time to decide on Bonds retrial

- Associated Press - Thursday, June 23, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A federal judge on Thursday gave prosecutors more time to decide whether home run record-holder Barry Bonds should face another perjury trial.

Bonds' criminal trial ended inconclusively April 13 when a jury convicted the seven-time MVP on an obstruction of justice count but deadlocked on three perjury charges, the allegations at the heart of the government's case. Prosecutors tried to show that Bonds lied about using performance-enhancing drugs, which the slugger maintained he never knowingly took.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston granted prosecutors' request for more time to decide whether to try the case again, over the objections of Bonds' attorney, Allen Ruby. Ruby wanted to know immediately whether the government would continue its yearslong pursuit of Major League Baseball's career home runs leader.

But the judge testily told Ruby that prosecutors had no obligation to announce their intention until the court resolves Bonds' motion for outright acquittal or a new trial on the obstruction conviction. Bonds' attorneys say that the jury erred in concluding the slugger's rambling answer to a question about injecting steroids was meant to mislead a grand jury's investigation into sports doping.

"It seems to me manifestly unlikely a decision like that is going to be made until a decision on the motion is made," Illston said.

The two sides are next scheduled back in court on Aug. 26 to wrangle over the obstruction conviction.

The prosecution of Bonds was the last and highest-profile case arising from a sprawling sports doping investigation that shut down a steroids distribution ring headquartered at the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, better known as BALCO.

Bonds and two dozen other athletes from various sports testified before a grand jury in 2003 about their connection to BALCO. Bonds was one of five people charged with lying to the grand jury or federal investigators about using steroids. Track star Marion Jones and former Pro Bowl defensive lineman Dana Stubblefield pleaded guilty while Bonds was one of three to demand a trial.

He was initially charged in 2007 and only went to trial after years of delays.

Based on the outcome of two similar BALCO cases, Bonds is expected to receive a sentence of house arrest if the obstruction conviction holds up.

A majority of jurors said they voted to acquit Bonds on charges that he lied to the grand jury when he denied knowingly taking steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. They voted 11-1 to convict him of lying when he testified that no one but his doctor ever injected him with anything, but one holdout juror would not budge.

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