Barry Bonds won a doubleheader Friday in court when a federal judge unsealed his grand jury testimony from 2003, which makes public what the slugger said under oath about steroid use.
The judge also ordered the U.S. attorney to amend its indictment against Bonds so that it does not include multiple alleged offenses in a single charge.
Bonds’ attorneys declared the decision a “very good thing” saying it brings transparency and clarity to the case.
Federal prosecutors have accused the most prolific home run hitter in baseball history of lying during his December 2003 testimony to a grand jury investigating steroid use. Bonds testified after federal agents raided Burlingame-based Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, which was owned by Victor Conte and whom pleaded guilty to a steroid distribution charge and money laundering.
Bonds was indicted in November by a separate grand jury on four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice pertaining to the testimony.
The indictment alleged the slugger lied 19 times during his grand jury testimony when he denied ever knowingly taking steroids or performance-enhancing drugs.
During Friday’s proceedings, Judge Susan Illston unsealed Bonds’ testimony, agreeing with Bonds’ attorney Dennis Riordan that prosecutors must edit out many of the alleged lies or seek a new indictment, which could contain more charges.
Riordan said Friday the indictment was “duplicitous” because it alleged multiple false statements in each of the four perjury counts.
“A jury could find that one offense [in a count] is true and another not true [in the same count],” Riordan said, adding that the obstruction of justice charge should be dismissed as well since it was based upon the four counts of lying under oath.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Wilson said the federal government intended during trial to introduce evidence that would prove all statements in each count false. “The thrust of the government’s indictment is to make a good-faith effort to include false statements in each count,” Wilson said.
But Illston sided with the defense, saying the government needed to “clarify what to proceed on.”
“The government has been told they cannot proceed on this indictment,” Riordan said after the hearing, noting that federal attorneys could come back with even more counts against Bonds. “At this very moment, there is not a valid indictment on Mr. Bonds.”
The November indictment came just three months after the Giants’ left fielder broke Hank Aaron’s career home run record, and it culminated a four-year investigation into steroid use by elite athletes.
The case will return to court March 21 for a status conference to discuss the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s revised indictment of Bonds.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.