WASHINGTON -- Roger Clemens’ lawyer opened his defense of the former pitching star by telling jurors that evidence purportedly showing Clemens used steroids was manipulated by his former strength coach, Brian McNamee.
Rusty Hardin called the evidence collected by McNamee a "mixed up hodgepodge of garbage" during the lawyer’s opening statement Tuesday.
Hardin said that the defense will not contest that a needle with steroids that McNamee provided to authorities also contains Clemens’ DNA. But he said his side will contend that McNamee put the steroids in the needle after injecting Clemens, and that the coach in fact had used the needle to inject Clemens with vitamin B12. Clemens has maintained for years that he received B12 shots and the local anesthetic lidocaine, but not performance-enhancing drugs.
McNamee, the government’s key witness, has said he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone. Clemens is accused of lying to Congress when he denied using those drugs.
Hardin told the jurors that prosecutors will not be able to corroborate McNamee’s claims. He said that the government has interviewed 187 people, and used 103 federal law enforcement officers—"over whether a baseball player used steroids!"
The lawyer tried to call into question McNamee’s motives, showing the jury the cover of an unpublished manuscript called, "Death, Taxes and MAC," with the "X" in "Taxes" made up of two crossed syringes.
"Is there any market for this book if he hadn’t made these allegations about Roger Clemens?" asked Hardin, who also showed a picture of McNamee appearing on the Howard Stern show in 2009.
Hardin attacked the prosecutors for bringing the case against Clemens.
"We’re here because a man dared to deny he was guilty of a crime," he said, adding that the government should never prosecute someone for trying to clear his name.
On Monday, prosecutor Steven Durham in his opening statement pointed his finger at Clemens and depicted the former pitcher as a man who told lies and "other lies to cover up lies."
"I was a little surprised at the finger-pointing and the aggressiveness he took toward Mr. Clemens as a person," Hardin said.
Hardin also challenged the notion that Clemens testified voluntarily in 2008. He said that Clemens testified after receiving an invitation from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, because he knew he’d be subpoenaed if he refused the invitation. Clemens didn’t want to testify, Hardin said, but he did want "the world to know he hadn’t done what he had been accused of."
Last year’s mistrial was called after the government showed the jury a snippet of videotaped evidence that had been ruled inadmissible.