Roger Clemens, one of the great professional baseball pitchers of all time, created a cover story to dupe the public about his alleged drug use in order to protect his name, a prosecutor told jurors today in Washington.
The prosecutor, Gilberto Guerrero Jr., delivering the first part of the closing argument for the government, urged jurors to find Clemens guilty for allegedly lying to Congress in 2008 when he denied using performance enhancing drugs during his Major League Baseball career.
“Roger Clemens gets entangled in a web of lies,” Guerrero told the jurors in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Guerrero told jurors to use common sense to dismiss Clemens’s attacks on the credibility of the chief government witness and the reliability of the physical evidence.
Clemens, Guerrero said, made one false statement after another. “Folks, let’s face it. It’s not the lies that get you in trouble. It’s the cover up," the prosecutor said. "One lie leads to another. One false statement leads to another. Before you know it, it’s too much.”
Clemens’s defense lawyers, Rusty Hardin Jr. and Michael Attanasio, have portrayed the government’s chief witness, Brian McNamee, a former strength coach, as a serial liar bent on exploiting his relationship with Clemens.
McNamee, Attanasio said, is "the only witness ever in the history of the world who says he gave or saw an injection to that man. You saw how hard the FBI looked for corroboration. Brian McNamee defines reasonable doubt."
Earlier, Guerrero this morning created a narrative under the theme of a cover story. Clemens, the prosecutor said, was forced to make up details to fit his version of events. Clemens, Guerrero argued, had to maintain that his friend and former teammate Andy Pettitte did not correctly remember a conversation about human growth hormone.
Guerrero told jurors that Andy Pettitte, a former Clemens teammate, recalled Clemens told him in a conversation in 1999 or 2000 that he used human growth hormone. On the witness stand, however, Pettitte said there was a 50-50 chance he did not recall the substance of the conversation correctly.
“Roger Clemens confessed to Andy Pettitte,” Guerrero declared. “We submit to you Andy Pettitte heard it correctly. One hundred percent."
Attanasio disputed Guerrero's characterization of that conversation. Pettitte's testimony doesn't come close to confirming statements from McNamee, the defense lawyer said. He chastised prosecutors for describing what Clemens said as a confession. "It's not fair, and it's not right," Attanasio said.
Clemens has long insisted that he took shots of B12 and Lidocaine from McNamee, who has no medical background. If B12 was so widely given, Guerrero argued, Clemens could easily have gone to a team doctor. “The cover story starts to fail,” the prosecutor said.
Guerrero also attacked the testimony of Debbie Clemens, Roger Clemens's wife, who said McNamee injected her with human growth hormone without her husband’s knowledge. Debbie Clemens insisted she’d read an article in USA Today about growth hormone and then decided, soon after, to take a shot.
The Debbie Clemens story, Guerrero said, is fabricated. “She never read that article,” the prosecutor said. Roger Clemens, Guerrero said, was present when McNamee injected Clemens’s wife.
Clemens was charged in 2010 with crimes that included perjury and obstruction of Congress for allegedly lying at a hearing two years earlier when he denied using performance enhancing drugs.
Hardin, earlier at trial, described as “garbage” the physical evidence in the case—including needles and vials. Hardin questioned the reliability of the evidence, which McNamee said he stored for seven years in a Miller Lite can.
McNamee, according to the government, is telling the truth about the evidence. Right or wrong, the prosecutor said, McNamee decided to save the medical waste in the hope that it would alleviate family tension. McNamee testified his wife had been nagging him about how his role in injecting athletes with performance enhancing drugs would ultimately bring him down.
“He’s a flawed man. He’s not perfect. But who is?” Guerrero said in court. “But it was Roger Clemens who picked Brian McNamee, not the government. Roger Clemens was using him for that single purpose—inject the steroids and the HGH and keep your mouth shut.”
Attanasio said McNamee committed perjury on the stand when he testified about his motivation for keeping medical evidence. "We can't prove to you why he did what he did," Attanasio said. But "we know he lied when he told you why he did it. That's all we need to know."