WASHINGTON (AP) — It took 24 witnesses over 19 days of testimony for prosecutors to make their case against Roger Clemens, with three jurors and two minor pieces of the indictment dismissed by the time they were done. With the overlong-running trial now in its seventh week and Clemens' lawyers starting to take their turn, the case remains centered on the credibility of one person — Brian McNamee.
The government rested Tuesday in the perjury trial of the seven-time Cy Young Award winner, wrapping up with a witness from Wall Street and two from the FBI. Two invoked the name of McNamee, the longtime Clemens strength coach who says he injected the ex-pitcher with steroids in 1998, 2000 and 2001 and with human growth hormone in 2000.
The defense is expected to take about two weeks to call its witnesses. The trial has already exceeded the original estimate of four to six weeks stated by the judge at the start of jury selection.
Clemens is charged with two counts of perjury, three counts of making false statements and one count of obstruction of Congress. All relate to his testimony at a hearing in February 2008 and his deposition that preceded it.
The heart of the case is the allegation that Clemens lied when he said he had never used steroids or HGH, but the obstruction count included 15 statements, or "acts," in which Clemens is alleged to have misled Congress on a variety of issues. U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton dismissed two of those acts Tuesday.
The first dismissed act dealt with Clemens' claim that he had "no idea" that former Sen. George Mitchell wanted to talk with him in preparation for the 2007 Mitchell Report on drugs in baseball. The government couldn't prove otherwise because some of its evidence was ruled inadmissible due to rules over attorney-client privilege.
The second dismissed act deals with Clemens' statement in his 2008 deposition that: "I couldn't tell you the first thing about (HGH)." The judge said that statement could be misinterpreted because it was asked in the context of whether Clemens had ever done any research into HGH.
Thirteen alleged misleading statements remain in the charges. The government only needs to prove one to gain a conviction for obstruction of Congress.
There's something the trial definitely can't afford to keep losing: jurors. Two have been dismissed for sleeping during the proceedings, and a third was lost Tuesday following the death of her mother. There's only one alternate left.
"So I'd ask everybody to stay healthy and available," Walton told the remaining 13. Many of them smiled or laughed.
One of the government's final witnesses was Anthony Corso, one of McNamee's so-called "Wall Street clients" who worked out with the strength coach in Manhattan. Corso related a pair of conversations meant to show that McNamee didn't start making up allegations and fabricating evidence against Clemens to placate federal investigators in 2007.