A jury on Monday acquitted Major League Baseball pitching great Roger Clemens of all six criminal charges against him in a trial to decide whether he lied to Congress about using performance-enhancing drugs.
Clemens, dressed in a beige suit, blue shirt and tie, showed little outward emotion as the verdict was read, but choked up during brief comments after he emerged from the federal courthouse.
"It has been a hard five years," Clemens said, as he thanked his wife, family and teammates. "I put a lot of hard work into that career. I appreciate my teammates that came in and all the emails and phone calls from my teammates."
Jurors deliberated for a total of about 10 hours before coming to a decision. If convicted, Clemens would have faced a maximum prison term of 30 years, though under federal sentencing guidelines he most likely would have received 15 to 21 months.
One of the greatest pitchers in Major League Baseball history, Clemens was charged with one count of obstruction of Congress, three counts of making a false statement and two counts of perjury. He did not take the stand in his own defense during the two-month trial.
This was Clemens' second trial on federal charges of lying in 2008 to a congressional committee that was investigating drug use in baseball when he said he did not use performance-enhancing drugs. His first trial ended in a mistrial.
The current trial has featured 46 witnesses over 26 days of testimony, including Brian McNamee, Clemens' former trainer, who said he injected Clemens with anabolic steroids and human growth hormone between 1998 and 2001.
McNamee worked with Clemens when the pitcher played for the Toronto Blue Jays and later the New York Yankees.
McNamee testified that he kept needles, cotton balls, a broken steroid ampoule and other medical waste from injections for Clemens. Prosecutors have said some of the items contained Clemens' DNA and traces of steroids.
Clemens' lawyers said McNamee contradicted himself throughout the investigation and trial and had not just lied about his motives for keeping medical waste he later gave to authorities, but "made up this story" about doing so to keep his wife off his back.
The defense lawyers argued that Clemens' success was due to hard work.
Known as "The Rocket," Clemens played for four teams over a 24-year career and won 354 regular season games. He is a seven-time winner of the Cy Young Award for best pitcher.
(Editing by David Brunnstrom and Christopher Wilson)