Roger Clemens Trial: Prosecution Claims DNA On Needles, Cotton Balls In Opening Statement

A day after jury selection concluded, the Roger Clemens trial got into full swing on Wednesday with opening statements from each side. The final Clemens jury consists of ten women and two men, with nine African Americans and three whites. For comparison's sake, the Barry Bonds trial consisted of eight women and four men, only two of which were African American.

Clemens is on trial for one count of obstruction of Congress, three counts of providing a false statement, and two counts of perjury. The opening statements provide an opportunity for each side to lay out its case for the jury. Opening statements do not constitute evidence to be considered during jury deliberations, but rather it is the road map for the case. Attorneys will use phrases like, "The evidence will show..." and "Witness X will testify that..." They will use these phrases because attorneys cannot make arguments during the opening statement, they can only lay out facts. Thus the difference between the opening statements and closing arguments.

The government opened with a fairly straightforward, no-nonsense approach in laying out the facts. They initially pointed to the role of Congress in protecting the public health in an attempt to establish the legitimacy of the Congressional committee and the subsequent hearings. Part of the defense's strategy is to convince the jurors the Congressional hearings were not a legitimate, which would call into question whether Clemens actually could have obstructed Congress.

The government then went right to the heart of their case in describing the long-standing relationship between Clemens and Brian McNamee. Assistant US Attorney Steven Durham told the jurors about the PEDs McNamee allegedly provided to Clemens. Durham went through the pieces of evidence that would prove this occurred, culminating in his introduction of what could be the smoking gun in this case. Durham provided a photograph of needles and cotton balls, which he claims contain Clemens DNA. While Clemens claims McNamee injected him with B-12 and lidocaine, the government contended the syringes contained no such substances.

Much of this case revolves around the motives of Brian McNamee. The government portrayed him as a guy just trying to protect himself by preserving the DNA evidence. He apparently did not trust Clemens entirely and wanted to cover his back in case Clemens ever threw him under the bus. The government will provide upwards of 45 witness, but their case will really hinge on whether the jury is willing to believe McNamee. The defense will paint him in very broad strokes as a liar who manufactured this evidence. The final verdict could very well come down to this one man.

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