Closing arguments given in Clemens trial

Posted: June 14, 2012

WASHINGTON - Roger Clemens was either the victim of a pathological liar or someone who spun a web of lies to protect his legacy as one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history.

The divergent portraits emerged during closing arguments Tuesday in the former star's perjury trial.

Clemens is accused of lying to Congress in 2008 when he denied having taken performance-enhancing drugs, and jurors are expected to begin deliberating in earnest Wednesday afternoon.

For Clemens, whose reputation has already been so badly marred by the allegations that his election to the Hall of Fame is unlikely, the trial carries real risk: He faces potential prison time if convicted.

But the stakes are also high for federal prosecutors and federal agents who not only invested enormous resources in their investigation of Clemens but also failed to secure a clear victory in last year's trial of Barry Bonds.

Federal prosecutors crafted a narrative of a man who was the victim of his own hubris, accusing Clemens of lying to Congress about never having taken steroids or human growth hormone despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

"He made many choices," Assistant U.S. Attorney Gilberto Guerrero Jr. said. "He chose to lie, he chose to mislead, he chose to make false statements."

Clemens' defense lawyers countered that the seven-time Cy Young Award winner never took performance-enhancing drugs, earning his success through hard work and determination, not drugs.

"What has happened in this case is a horrible, horrible overreach by the government," said Rusty Hardin, Clemens's lead attorney, who showed jurors a map illustrating the 179 people interviewed in 68 locations as part of the investigation.

Hardin and his co-counsel, Michael Attanasio, argued that the real liar was Clemens' chief accuser, former strength coach Brian McNamee, who testified that he injected Clemens with steroids or human growth hormone in 1998, 2000, and 2001.

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