MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
Jurors in the Barry Bonds' perjury trial heard closing arguments today. Federal prosecutors claimed that baseball's home run king lied when he told the federal grand jury in 2003 that he had never knowingly taken performance-enhancing drugs. But the prosecution was dealt a setback when a potential key witness, Bonds' former trainer, Greg Anderson, chose to go to prison rather than testify against his friend and former boss. Bonds' defense team appeared so confident that it rested its case yesterday without calling any witnesses to rebut the charges of perjury.
NPR's Richard Gonzales has been following the trial in San Francisco, and he joins me now. And first, Richard, why don't you summarize what the government's closing arguments were today?
RICHARD GONZALES: Well, the prosecution wants jurors to believe that Bonds knew he was taking steroids when he denied taking them. In grand jury testimony back in 2003, he admitted taking two substances called the cream and the clear. And he said then, he thought that they were flaxseed oil and an arthritis cream.
The prosecution had three major witnesses. Steve Hoskins, a former business manager, who said that he talked with Bonds about using steroids; in Hoskins' words, steroid use was out of hand.
Another witness, a former girlfriend, Kimberly Bell, testified that Bonds became emotionally abusive, aggressive and irritable, and that his body had changed in ways that are associated with steroid use.
And then finally, there was Kathy Hoskins. She's a sister of Steve Hoskins. She said that she saw Bonds receiving an injection of something - she didn't know what - and that that shot had been administered by the trainer, Greg Anderson.
BLOCK: And we'll get back to Greg Anderson, the trainer, in just a minute. But let's talk first about the defense and how they have rebutted the government's witnesses that you just talked about.
GONZALES: The defense in its closing remarks is saying that all three witnesses against Bonds have a personal interest, an ax to grind, but I want to add that one witness, Kathy Hoskins, who says she saw Bonds receiving an injection seems very credible.
And one of the charges against Bonds is that he denied that anyone other than his doctor ever gave him an injection.
BLOCK: Now, the former trainer, whom we've mentioned, Greg Anderson, chose to go to prison, as we said, not to testify against Barry Bonds. What does that do to the prosecution's case?
GONZALES: It really hamstrings it. Anderson would be the star witness in this case, except that he is in jail. The government has documents, his doping calendars that tie Bonds to steroid use. But the judge, Susan Illston, ruled that those records are inadmissible without Anderson's testimony to authenticate them.
Meanwhile, we had four former Major League ballplayers, including former Oakland A's and New York Yankee slugger Jason Giambi, all saying they had received performance-enhancing drugs from Anderson.
So what the prosecution is hoping is that the jury will think, okay, Anderson gave those guys drugs, then he probably gave them to Bonds too.
BLOCK: And in the end, it could be, if Barry Bonds is not convicted, that Greg Anderson ends up spending more than a year in jail. Barry Bonds could walk free.
GONZALES: That's true. Bonds' defense lawyers sent a pretty confident message yesterday that they didn't think the prosecution presented a convincing case at all, so they rested without calling any witnesses.
They had floated the idea that they might put Bonds on the stand, but no one really took that seriously. And so now, we're in the closing phase of this thing.
BLOCK: And, Richard, if Barry Bonds is convicted, what kind of sentence would he face?
GONZALES: He could get up to 10 years on a single count, but under some federal sentencing guidelines, it's more likely that he would just get a few months if he's convicted.
BLOCK: Okay. NPR's Richard Gonzales covering the Barry Bonds perjury trial in San Francisco.
Richard, thanks so much.
GONZALES: Thank you.
BLOCK: And that case how gone to the jury.