The judge in Barry Bonds’ perjury trial threw out more evidence Thursday, ruling prosecutors cannot use a set of abusive voicemails the former Giants slugger left for his former girlfriend.
Prosecutors said the taped messages, on which Bonds cursed and threatened former girlfriend Kimberly Bell, demonstrated that Bonds was suffering from so-called “steroid rage,” a side effect of his alleged use of banned drugs.
But at a hearing in federal court, Judge Susan Illston said the tape were “very marginal in terms of any relevance” and were “unattractive – that’s the only reason they would be used.”
U.S. District Court photoBonds and Bell
She ordered prosecutors not to play them for the jury in Bonds’ trial, which begins Monday.
The judge had already ruled that Bell is not allowed to testify about a 2003 incident in which Bonds allegedly choked the woman because she was late for a date. That incident also suggested Bonds’ steroid use, the government said.
Bonds is charged with perjury and obstruction of justice, accused of lying to a grand jury in 2003 when he testified that he had never knowingly used steroids. Bonds has pleaded not guilty.
Also at the hearing, the judge imposed limits on the testimony of the federal agent who led the probe of steroid dealing at the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative in Burlingame.
Jeff Novitzky, then with the Internal Revenue Service and now with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, raided the Burlingame home of Greg Anderson, Bonds’ weight trainer, in 2003 as part of the BALCO investigation. Agents seized cash and steroids in the raid, and Novitzky also interviewed Anderson, confronting him with doping calendars he allegedly kept to track athletes' steroid use.
Anderson acknowledged providing steroids and human growth hormone to several Giants players, court records show, but when asked about Bonds, he broke off the interview, saying he didn’t want to go to jail.
The judge ruled Novitzky cannot testify about those remarks, calling them hearsay. Earlier, she had ruled the government cannot show the jury the doping calendars Anderson allegedly kept for Bonds.
Anderson, who pleaded guilty to steroid dealing in the BALCO case, has refused to cooperate with the government’s probe of Bonds and has served more than a year in prison for contempt of court as a result. Anderson has said he also will refuse to testify at Bonds’ trial, and the judge has said she will probably put him back in prison.