WASHINGTON (AP) — A prosecutor told jurors Tuesday that Roger Clemens covered up his use of performance-enhancing drugs, and he urged them to hold the former star pitcher accountable for lying to Congress.
"He chose to lie, he chose to mislead, he chose to provide false statements, to impede Congress' legitimate investigation," Prosecutor Gil Guerrero said in the government's closing argument. "Now it's your turn to hold him accountable on every single count. You are the final umpires here."
Clemens is charged with lying to Congress in 2008 when he denied using steroids or human growth hormone. After 26 days of testimony over more than eight weeks, jurors neared the end of the case and were expected to begin deliberations later Tuesday.
"When you take that oath, you've got to tell the truth," Guerrero said in the packed courtroom.
He accused Clemens of coming up with a "cover story" about the injections he received from his former strength coach, Brian McNamee. Clemens said the injections were for vitamin B12 and the local anesthetic lidocaine, but McNamee testified that he injected the pitcher with steroids and HGH.
Guerrero honed in on one defense witness, Clemens' wife, Debbie. She testified that she had received a shot of HGH from McNamee without Clemens' knowledge — contradicting McNamee's version that the pitcher was present for the shot. Guerrero said it stretched credibility to believe that Debbie Clemens allowed McNamee to come into master bathroom without her husband's knowing about it. One of the false allegations Clemens is charged with is that his wife was injected with HGH without his prior knowledge.
The prosecutor said that Clemens should have told McNamee, "What are you doing in my master bathroom with my wife?!"
The reason he didn't, Guerrero said, was that "he was there that day."
The prosecutor also said that another false statement to Congress, about whether Clemens was at a pool party hosted by then-teammate Jose Canseco on June 9, 1998, was important because it occurred near the time the government alleges Clemens began taking steroids.
He noted that Debbie Clemens admitted during her testimony that the family stayed at the Canseco house the night before.
"It's not just the party, folks," Guerrero said. "He was there the whole time!"
Earlier Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton said he would allow jurors to consider this alleged false statement, in which Clemens said he was not at Canseco's house on or around that day. The day before, the judge had said he would consider tossing the alleged false statement,
"I will permit it to go the jury, although I have some concerns," Walton said Tuesday, before jurors entered the room.
Prosecutors have connected Clemens' alleged attendance at the party to steroids use in vague terms: Clemens' chief accuser, his former strength coach, Brian McNamee, testified he saw Clemens talking at the party to Canseco, identified to the jury as a steroids user, and a third man, just days before Clemens allegedly asked McNamee for a first injection of steroids.
Clemens' denial of being at Canseco's house is one of 13 alleged Clemens lies cited in the count charging the former baseball pitcher with obstructing Congress. Clemens also is charged with two counts of perjury and three counts of making false statements.
Guerrero also tried to bolster the testimony of former Clemens teammate Andy Pettitte, who testified that Clemens said he had used HGH — but then agreed under cross-examination it was fair to say there was a "50/50" chance he misunderstood Clemens.
"He didn't want to testify against his friend," Guerrero said. "No way. He played with him ... They were almost brothers." The prosecutor said that Pettitte "was jumping at the opportunity under cross examination to say maybe 50/50."
AP Sports Writer Joseph White contributed to this report.