(Long Island, N.Y.) It isn’t exactly O.J. Simpson or Casey Anthony walking away from the courthouse, but Roger Clemens has to feel extremely relieved that his perjury case resulted in a mistrial. The former standout starting pitcher has never wavered in his stance on not using performance-enhancing drugs, even when many of his peers chose to throw themselves on the sword and admit it. That may actually pay off for him in the long run.
When the government tried to bring in evidence that was previously deemed inadmissible by U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, he immediately threw the case out. “Mr. Clemens has to get a fair trial,” Walton told the jurors. “In my view, he can’t get it now.”
Once prosecutors showed the jury a video tape of former teammate Andy Pettitte talking about telling his wife that Clemens once admitted to using a PED, the plug was pulled on only the second day of testimony. This was related to the infamous “misremembers” or “misheard” quote by Clemens at the 2008 congressional hearings.
The major blunder by the prosecution opens the door for Clemens to walk away Scott-free once the September 2nd hearing commences. Walton will decide then to hold a new trial or not. There has even been speculation that the judge will decide that a second trial would result in Double Jeopardy, but that is a stretch.
If this case if ever tried, it will come down to which person is more believable. The hypodermic needles and cotton swabs that Clemens’ former trainer Brian McNamee produced during the initial investigation have been brought to light again. Miller Light, that is.
McNamee kept the possible physical evidence hidden in an empty Miller Light beer can in his home for six years as a ‘smoking gun’ if Clemens’ alleged performance-enhancing drug use ever came to light and blew up in both their faces. The trainer hung on to the items because he said that he didn’t trust Clemens.
The evidence did test positive for Clemens’ DNA and anabolic steroids, but the Rocket’s attorney is claiming that it was planted. “He manufactured this stuff,” Rusty Hardin said during the defense’s opening statements. “Roger Clemens’ only crime was having the poor judgment to stay connected with Brian McNamee.”
Of course the chain of custody is the main issue here, but that still comes down to which of these two men is the most believable. Clemens has held strong that he never used steroids or human growth hormone, both of which McNamee has stated he injected the former star pitcher with from 1998 to 2001.
The prosecution is doing its best to make it more than who has higher integrity. “Everything Mr. McNamee says we intend to corroborate with independent evidence,” assistant U.S. attorney Steven Durham said.
The majority of the circumstantial evidence says that Clemens did use the drugs. But that needs to be backed up by something solid. The needle and swabs will play a major role and that may be what swings the pendulum.
But we have to get there first, and Clemens is leading after the first inning.