The prosecutors in the perjury case against Roger Clemens today asked a federal judge in Washington not to knock out key testimony from Andy Pettitte about a conversation he says he had with Clemens about human growth hormone.
Last week at trial, Pettitte, a former Clemens teammate, testified Clemens told him in 1999 or 2000 during an off-season workout that he had used growth hormone to help with recovery. But, on cross-examination, Pettitte indicated that it’s a 50-50 chance he does not correctly remember the substance of the conversation.
An assistant U.S. attorney, Steven Durham, said in court papers (PDF) filed today that Clemens’ defense attorneys unfairly seized on a statement from Pettitte in court—“I’d say that’s fair”—to ask U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton to throw out the testimony about the conversation. Pettitte made that remark after a defense attorney for Clemens, Mike Attanasio, asked him about the 50-50 odds.
At issue is the legal threshold that allows jurors to consider an alleged admission from a defendant. Clemens’ lawyers contend prosecutors haven’t met their burden to keep the Pettitte growth hormone testimony in the case. Durham said today that the defense is wrong. Pettitte’s recollection goes to the heart of the government’s case: that Clemens lied to Congress in 2008 when he claimed he had never taken human growth hormone.
Durham said Pettitte, on the witness stand, confirmed to the jury that his present-day memory of the conversation was that Clemens confessed using human growth hormone. Pettitte, the prosecutor said, confirmed the accuracy of an exhibit that was displayed to jurors. That exhibit is a char documenting dates in which Pettitte either used drugs himself or talked with Clemens about HGH.
Clemens in 2005 admitted the earlier conversation with Pettitte was, in fact, about human growth hormone. But Clemens claimed in the later conversation that Pettitte misunderstood him. Clemens claimed then that his wife, Debbie, had used HGH.
Prosecutors said in the court papers filed today that the jury “could place greater weight on Pettitte’s initial understanding of the conversation than on more recent, arguably equivocal testimony that could reasonably be viewed as subject to external influences.”
The Clemens trial resumes this morning with the testimony of Kirk Radomski, an admitted steroid dealer who pleaded guilty in 2007 to federal drug and money laundering charges.
Radomski told jurors yesterday that he sold drugs to Brian McNamee, a former strength trainer for Clemens. McNamee, a central witness for the government, is expected to testify soon for the prosecution that he injected Clemens with performance enhancing drugs.
McNamee’s credibility, paramount for the government, is expected to come under attack from the Clemens defense team.