|Bonds pleads not guilty to perjury, obstruction charges|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 07 December 2007 23:53|
Baseball's home run king smiled, waved and made eye contact with his supporters as he visited U.S. District Court on Friday for a whirlwind arraignment.
The proceedings were a marked contrast to Bonds' usually surly public persona.
Inside the courtroom, Bonds remained composed as a federal magistrate told him he could face jail time if convicted of the four counts of perjury and one of obstruction of justice.
The 43-year-old said little during the 30-minute hearing. He appeared relaxed as he smiled and chatted with his cadre of six attorneys. He then stood before the judge with his hands clasped behind his back and said: ``I'm Barry Bonds.''
His lawyer entered a not guilty plea, and Bonds was allowed to leave without posting any bail money, though he'll forfeit $500,000 if he violates the terms of his release or misses any required court appearances. A pretrial hearing was scheduled for Feb. 7, but Bonds may not have to attend.
If convicted, legal experts say Bonds could spend up to 2 1/2 years in prison.
He lingered for several minutes Friday to embrace and chat with an aunt while federal security officers scrambled to maintain order and keep the throng at bay.
As Bonds emerged from the courthouse, he waved to a small gathering of fans chanting ``Barry, Barry.'' Hundreds of cameras and tape recorders were shoved in his face, but Bonds coolly ignored them.
Instead he posted a statement on his Web site: ``I still have confidence in the judicial system and especially in the judgment of the citizens who will decide this case,'' Bonds said. ``And I know that when all of this is over, I will be vindicated because I am innocent.''
Bonds' new lead attorney Allen Ruby said he would soon ask a judge to toss out the case because of ``defects'' in the indictment. He declined to elaborate.
Prosecutors wanted Bonds to turn over his passport and restrict his travel to within the United States. But the judge declined after Ruby, in a sign that Bonds intends to play baseball next season, said such a restriction would interfere with his ability to make a living.
The indictment charges Bonds with lying when he testified he never knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs, even though prosecutors say he flunked a private steroids test in 2000. Bonds' personal surgeon, Dr. Arthur Ting, collected the blood sample and is expected to be called as a witness if the case goes to trial.
Former Giants teammates and other players, including Gary Sheffield and Jason Giambi, also could testify at trial, which wouldn't begin until late next year at the earliest.
Investigators also say they seized other evidence, including an alleged ``doping calendar'' maintained by Bonds' personal trainer Greg Anderson, who spent about a year in jail for refusing to help investigators in their perjury probe of Bonds.
Anderson, who was released from prison after Bonds was indicted, still could be called to testify at the trial. His lawyer said Friday that Anderson will refuse, meaning prosecutors could ask the judge to send him back to prison for contempt.
Bonds' new defense team, assembled in the days leading up to his first court appearance, is expected to attack the credibility some of the government's key witnesses, including Bonds' former mistress and a one-time business partner who had a bitter split with the slugger over memorabilia sales.
Legal experts also say the reliability of the drug test, seized during a raid of the BALCO steroids lab, will be subject to fierce scrutiny by Bonds' lawyers.
Bonds, who made nearly $20 million last year playing for the Giants, was flanked by six private lawyers, including high-priced criminal defense attorneys Ruby and Cristina Arguedas, and noted appellate specialist Dennis Riordan.
Bonds, long represented by local attorney Michael Rains, added the new lawyers to his team for their federal court experience, which Rains lacks.
Arguedas and her firm represented several athletes called to testify before the BALCO grand jury, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Parrella told the judge there was ``a potential conflict of interest with some of the attorneys,'' though he didn't name them.
Parrella said he would file court papers on the issue, which could be debated at the Feb. 7 hearing. If so, Bonds would be required to attend because he may have to formally waive any conflict concerns. Otherwise, the judge said Bonds could skip that hearing.