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Not the best day for the prosecution in the Barry Bonds case

Mar 31, 2011, 5:30 PM EDT

Barry Bonds

It was a short day for the Bonds trial — they must all want to get home in time to watch the Giants-Dodgers — and they are now wrapped up for the week.  A bad morning for the prosecution, though, as Bonds’ former orthopedic surgeon, Arthur Ting, totally killed one of the prosecution’s key witnesses, Steve Hoskins.

Hoskins testified last week that he had discussed his concerns about Bonds’ steroids use with Ting many times. In fact, Hoskins said more than 50 times during his testimony. And when he did, Bonds’ lawyer asked him “are you sure about that?” I questioned that at the time, but we now know why he said it:  today Ting said that he and Hoskins only had one cursory exchange ever about steroids. And that it wasn’t even about Bonds. It was just a request for generic steroids information.

That testimony kills Hoskins’ credibility, it seems to me. Seems to be the case for the prosecutors too, who admitted that Hoskins had been “impeached heavily” by Ting’s testimony. And it seemed that way to the judge too, as she later grilled the prosecutors about whether they knew of these inconsistencies outside of the presence of the jury. Between an angry judge and the fact that Hoskins is the guy who has had the most to say about Bonds’ steroids use, this is a big problem for the prosecution.

Also helpful for Bonds was Ting’s testimony that all of Bonds’ alleged steroids symptoms — described by Kimberly Bell — could have been caused by corticosteroids that Ting prescribed for Bonds following surgery he had in 1999, undercutting the notion that such symptoms had to have been called by anabolic steroids supplied by BALCO and Greg Anderson.

After Ting came Kathy Hoskins, Bonds’ former personal shopper and sister of Steve Hoskins. She was far better for the prosecution, testifying that she actually saw Greg Anderson inject Barry Bonds with something on one occasion.  This could, if it holds up, be enough for a conviction on one count inasmuch as Bonds testified that Anderson never injected him with anything and was charged with lying about it. It does not seem, however, that she knew what the substance was, though she did say that Bonds referred to it as something that was “undetectable” and that he took it before road trips. Still, it is likely not enough to get him on the “did you take steroids” counts by itself.

After Hoskins came anti-doping expert Don Catlin, who testified about how his organization figured out what “the clear” was, testifying about how difficult it was to detect. Seems to me that the more they play up the high-tech nature of the substance the less likely it is that a dumb baseball player would be able to understand it, but really, it doesn’t seem to do a ton for either the defense or the prosecution.

All in all a fairly big day: two of the most significant witnesses against Bonds — Kimberly Bell and Steve Hoskins — were harmed. However, Bonds may have been sunk on the count regarding taking injections.  I think the defense will take that trade.

  1. fishfan46 - Mar 31, 2011 at 5:41 PM

    Nice article, but it needs more testicles.

    • dluxxx - Mar 31, 2011 at 5:57 PM

      Would you say about 50% more?

  2. vader000 - Mar 31, 2011 at 5:53 PM

    Heard you for a minute on the radio in Philly this morning Craig, good stuff. Just don’t judge the rest of us by that host if you go back on the show throughout the year. He’s entertaining but usually the first to hit the panic button in most situations… and he’s actually a Yankee fan. That is all.

  3. jamie54 - Mar 31, 2011 at 7:05 PM

    Thought before the trial started, hung jury, end of story. Dr. Ting, your bank account in the Bahamas has now been fortified.

  4. tjwilliams - Mar 31, 2011 at 8:04 PM

    Sorry, Craig, could you clarify for us non-law folks? Why is it so bad that Ting refuted Hoskins’s testimony? Doesn’t that sort of thing happen all the time? Wouldn’t it now be up to the jury to decide who to believe? Why is it such a big deal?

    • nesuperfan - Mar 31, 2011 at 8:07 PM

      I agree. Ting would seem to have ample reason to lie too.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Mar 31, 2011 at 8:36 PM

      Because Ting was called by the prosecution, who also called Hoskins. It was obviously not the prosecution’s intent to call a witness who refuted one of their other witnesses. That does NOT happen all the time.

      • jwbiii - Mar 31, 2011 at 8:56 PM

        If the prosecution had had a reasonable amount of time to prepare their case, they could have avoided these minor inconsistencies.

      • umrguy42 - Apr 1, 2011 at 10:42 AM

        I saw that he was a prosecution witness on ESPN’s crawl as I was watching my Cards get beat yesterday evening and went “damn, SOMEbody screwed up on THAT one”… I mean, shouldn’t that be part of “Witnesses 101” – NOT calling a witness that blows away your other witnesses’ testimony?

      • tjwilliams - Apr 1, 2011 at 12:33 PM

        Ah, that makes much more sense. Thank you.

      • njstrummer - Apr 1, 2011 at 1:07 PM

        Craig – of course it happens all the time. Witnesses often agree with some but not all of one another’s testimony. The only parts of Hoskins’ testimony that Ting disputes are the parts that paint Ting as a supplier or facilitator of Bonds’ drug use. I’m sure you’ve put witnesses on the stand who denied the parts of other witnesses’ testimony that made them look bad. “I admit I drove the getaway car, but he’s lying when he says I pulled the trigger.”

      • njstrummer - Apr 1, 2011 at 1:42 PM

        Do you really think the prosecution didn’t know in advance that Ting would deny knowledge of or involvement in the illegal steroid use? If he says anything else, he’s in trouble with the law and the licensing authorities.

  5. fishfan46 - Mar 31, 2011 at 8:32 PM

    At least 50% more testicles.

  6. dirtyharry1971 - Mar 31, 2011 at 10:52 PM

    Nice to see tax payer’s money at work, even if they convict bonds he isnt going to serve any real time. what a joke. vote all these jokers out asap who are dragging this thing out

  7. seeingwhatsticks - Apr 1, 2011 at 12:09 AM

    Ting has a pretty piss poor reputation among the medical community in the South Bay and should be pretty easy to discredit given that and the fact that his son was booted off the USC football team for taking steroids:

    • sysi45 - Apr 1, 2011 at 12:31 AM

      That still doesn’t answer why he a chosen to be a prosecution witness.

    • jwbiii - Apr 1, 2011 at 1:30 AM

      I confess: I smoked a little weed when I was younger. That doesn’t make my father a dealer. However, Dr. Ting has had a few more issues. sysi45’s point stands.

  8. Detroit Michael - Apr 1, 2011 at 7:15 AM

    On a tangential point, does the jury receive any explanation regarding why Greg Anderson is not a witness? Or are left to speculate or guess why that’s the case?

    • Craig Calcaterra - Apr 1, 2011 at 7:18 AM

      They are instructed that he is “not available” to testify and they are told specifically not to speculate as to why that may be. Which, yeah, is kind of impossible — they’ll speculate — but that’s the best the court can do.

  9. williamnyy23 - Apr 1, 2011 at 7:47 AM

    How powerful can Kathy Hoskins really be? She is the sister of Steve Hoskins, whose credibility has been seriously damaged. If the brother had an axe to grind, maybe the sister has one too. If her testimony alone is an enough to get a perjury conviction, that doesn’t say much for burden of proof.

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