It took three years to go from indictment to a trial, but on Monday, Barry Bonds’ perjury trial started with 40 jurors quickly getting dismissed from a prospective jury pool of slightly more than 100 people.
U.S. District Judge Susan Illston excused one juror because of a death in a family. A second person was dismissed because of his allegiance to the San Francisco Giants.
“I’m a Barry Bonds fan and I’m a huge SF Giants fan. It’s my life. I don’t know if I could judge Mr. Bonds after providing me with so much entertainment. It’s an intimate relationship,” prospective juror No. 22 wrote on a questionnaire he filled out on Thursday. “I don’t think I could find him guilty.”
The judge has sealed the prospective jurors’ names until after the trial concludes. No. 22 identified himself as age 35 and working at Target as an “in-stock team member.”
Illston also granted the request of both sides to dismiss another 38 prospective jurors with perceived biases. One of them, for instance, was dismissed because her mother worked for a district attorney.
“That puts a relatively large hole in the prospective jurors,” Illston said.
The judge called a recess soon after the jury pool was cut down, so she could consider prosecutors’ request to dismiss an additional 10 jurors. About 40 minutes later, court resumed with Illston saying she expects to have just enough people to fill the jury.
One of the prospective jurors whom prosecutors want excused wrote on her questionnaire: “He is guilty. He lied. He has suffered enuf. There should have been some sort of settlement.” The prospective juror identified herself as 61 years old and holding a law degree.
Bonds, who played for San Francisco when he hit 73 homers in a season and when he broke Hank Aaron’s career home run record, has pleaded not guilty to one count of obstruction and four charges of lying to a grand jury when he denied knowingly taking performance-enhancing drugs.
When he initially entered his plea in December 2007, he was met by a thousands of media, fans and others as television helicopters hovered overhead. Much of that attention was missing on Monday. About a dozen photographers milled outside, but few fans were there to see Bonds walk into the federal courthouse in San Francisco dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and silver tie.
While Bonds sat with his star-studded legal team at the defense table, Jeff Novitzky, the federal agent who led the investigation of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, joined the prosecutors. Bonds is the biggest name to go to trial from the BALCO probe.
The trial is scheduled to last between two to four weeks.
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