WASHINGTON – Baseball star Roger Clemens is arguing he should be allowed to introduce evidence during his upcoming steroid trial that the leading witness against him raped an unconscious woman and lied to police investigating the assault.
The move is part of Clemens' attempt to discredit his former trainer Brian McNamee, who was never charged in the assault investigation but admits he lied when questioned by Florida police in 2001. In a filing late Wednesday night, Clemens' attorneys argued the experience gave McNamee a motive to falsely accuse Clemens of using drugs to save himself from becoming a target of a federal criminal investigation in 2007.
That's the year McNamee told federal agents and investigators examining the role of performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball that he repeatedly injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone. The standout pitcher has steadfastly refuted McNamee's allegations and is going on trial next week on charges he lied to Congress about using drugs.
Prosecutors filed a motion last week asking U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton to restrict Clemens' attorneys' questioning of McNamee about the investigation during cross-examination or introducing evidence that the trainer assaulted the woman. Prosecutors said the issue could become a "sideshow" that would unfairly prejudice the jury against their leading witness.
The Florida investigation occurred in October 2001, when McNamee was an assistant strength and conditioning coach with the New York Yankees and had accompanied the team to a series against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Police reports said McNamee was seen having sex with an incoherent woman in a St. Petersburg hotel pool and witnesses reported hearing her say, "No." The woman told police she could not remember what happened — the date rape drug GHB was found in her system — but said she did not give McNamee permission to have sex with her.
The Yankees did not renew McNamee's contract after the investigation, but Clemens continued to work out privately with McNamee for years. Clemens' attorneys have said McNamee told Clemens he was falsely accused and had only been trying to pull the woman out of the pool.
Clemens' attorneys argued it's a vital part of their case to introduce evidence that McNamee drugged and raped the woman. They also said they want to offer evidence — including excerpts of McNamee's unpublished autobiography, obtained through a defense subpoena — that show McNamee was "obsessed" by the investigation and felt he was mistreated by police and the media.
"At the very least, this pattern of behavior establishes a motive and plan by Mr. McNamee to lie in 2007 when pressured by federal law enforcement personnel to name Mr. Clemens as a steroid user," Clemens' attorneys wrote. "As Mr. McNamee's own words make clear, his experience with Florida law enforcement did grave damage to his career and his relationship with his family. Caught once again in an investigation of his own criminal behavior — this time his involvement with a drug dealer named Kirk Radomski — he was prepared to do anything to shift the focus from himself to others."
Clemens also has been trying to limit what jurors will hear in the case. He wants the judge to prevent his former New York Yankee teammates from testifying they got performance-enhancing drugs from McNamee because he said it could lead to "guilt by association." But prosecutors responded Wednesday that they need the testimony from players like Andy Pettitte, Chuck Knoblauch and Mike Stanton to show that McNamee had access to drugs and knew how to inject them.
The prosecutors urged Walton to follow the lead of the judge in the Barry Bonds trial, who allowed evidence to be introduced that Bonds' alleged supplier gave drugs to other athletes.
"Just as a burglar's access to burglary tools would be relevant to a case involving a break-in, or an accountant's access to business checks would be relevant to a case involving embezzlement, Mr. McNamee's access to performance-enhancing drugs is relevant to whether he could possibly have supplied the drugs to defendant," assistant U.S. attorneys Steven Durham and Daniel Butler wrote in their filing.
The prosecutors have said they plan to call about 45 witnesses, but have yet to reveal all the names on the list. But Wednesday's filings disclosed a few details.
Clemens' attorneys revealed that prosecutors plan to call Yankees general manager Brian Cashman to testify about Clemens' role in getting McNamee hired by the Yankees in 2000.
Prosecutors said Pettitte, Knoblauch, Stanton and former first baseman David Segui will testify about team practices on the use of prescriptions and reasons players chose to use drugs. The prosecutors also said they plan to call at least one unidentified former player who chose not to use performance-enhancing drugs.
The prosecutors argued that Walton should allow witnesses to give other testimony about what McNamee told them before the Clemens story broke to back up his account. They said Pettitte will testify that McNamee told him that Clemens had used steroids. They said one of McNamee's personal training clients, Wall Street investment manager Anthony Corsco, will testify that McNamee told him he saved needles he used to inject Clemens. They also said Segui and drug supplier Kirk Radomski will testify that McNamee told them he had saved needles used to inject players.
Prosecutors also said Pettitte's wife should be allowed to testify about how her husband told her that he talked to Clemens about drugs. Clemens' attorneys had argued the conversations with Laura Pettitte and the people who spoke with McNamee about his drug injections are hearsay that should not be heard by the jury.
"The defense has put Mr. McNamee's credibility, bias and motives at issue," the prosecutors wrote. "The government is entitled to show that Mr. McNamee's statements have been consistent and corroborated, as part of rebutting the defense's allegations of bias."
Both sides agree that witnesses should be prevented from watching the trial in the courtroom, with Clemens asking for one exception. He wants to have his wife, Debra, attend even though his lawyers may call her to testify.
Follow Nedra Pickler's coverage of the Clemens trial at http://twitter.com/nedrapickler