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Jury Finds Baseball Star Roger Clemens Not Guilty On All Counts

Former Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens, accompanied by his attorney Rusty Hardin, left, arrives at federal court in Washington on June 11.
Haraz N. Ghanbari
Former Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens, accompanied by his attorney Rusty Hardin, left, arrives at federal court in Washington on June 11.

A jury found baseball star Roger Clemens not guilty on six charges against. Clemens was accused of lying to Congress in 2008 about his use of performance enhancing drugs.

As NPR's Nina Totenberg told us, the prosecution contended that Clemens — considered one of the best pitchers professional baseball has ever seen — needed the drugs to keep up with the game as he aged. But the defense struck hard at one of the prosecution's star witness, trainer Brian McNamee who was the only one to claim he witnessed Clemens' drug use first hand. McNamee testified he injected the pitcher with performance enhancing drugs. The defense used McNamee's estranged wife to contradict the trainer's testimony. McNamee also said he had exaggerated and changed his story when he talked to investigators in 2001.

The jury also heard from pitcher Andy Pettitte who indicated Clemens had told him he used human growth hormone. During cross examination, however, Pettitte, who was Clemens' teammate, admitted that he might have misunderstood Clemens.

The AP reports:

"In reaching a verdict, the panel of eight women and four men had to decide whether Clemens's answers to questions from Congressional investigators and lawmakers were "material" or relevant to the work of committee 'as distinguished from unimportant or trivial facts,' according to the lengthy jury instructions.

"To find Clemens guilty of the obstruction charge, for instance, jurors had to unanimously agree that the all-star pitcher made at least one of 13 allegedly false or misleading statements on subjects including his use of vitamin B-12 and the circumstances of his wife's injection of human growth hormone."

This was Clemens' second trial on the perjury and obstruction charges. A judge declared a mistrial the first time around in the summer of 2011 after prosecutors showed jurors evidence the judge had ruled inadmissible.

Update at 5:08 p.m. ET. 'A Beautiful Day':

Outside the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C., Rusty Hardin, Clemens' lawyer, said this was "a beautiful day" and that the verdict proved what Clemens has said all along: "using steroids and HGH is cheating" and he would never do that.

Clemens thanked his family, his lawyers and his teammates before choking up.

"I put a lot of work into this career," he said, referencing the hit the accusations of doping took on his reputation as a pitcher headed to the Hall of Fame.

Update at 5:52 p.m. ET. 'Jury Has Spoken':

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia sent this statement to reporters:

"The jury has spoken in this matter and we thank them for their service. We respect the judicial process and the jury's verdict. The U.S. Attorney's Office also wishes to thank the investigators and prosecutors, who pursued this case with tremendous dedication and professionalism after its referral to us from Congress."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.