Bloomberg News

Clemens’s DNA Was on Needle, Cotton Balls, Witness Says

May 26, 2012

Former New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens’s genetic material was found on medical waste that his ex-trainer turned over to federal investigators, a DNA analyst testified at the perjury trial of the baseball player.

Alan Keel of Forensic Science Associates, a California consulting firm, told federal court jurors yesterday in Washington that he found Clemens’s DNA on two cotton balls and a needle. The former trainer, Brian McNamee, left blood on a piece of gauze and pus on a piece of tissue, Keel said. McNamee said earlier he might have cut himself breaking the top of an ampul.

The amount of Clemens’s DNA found on the needle was about six to 12 cells, Keel said.

“A very small amount of biological material was recovered,” he said.

Keel, a prosecution witness, agreed with Assistant U.S. Attorney Courtney Saleski that a small amount isn’t unusual for an intramuscular injection.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton ended the trial for the day about 30 minutes early, saying a juror had learned that her mother just died and was “distraught.” He said he would know before the trial resumes on May 29 whether the juror would be able to continue.

If that juror is released, one alternate remains. Two jurors were dismissed earlier for falling asleep during the trial, which just finished its sixth week.

Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, is charged with one count of obstructing a congressional investigation, three counts of making false statements and two counts of perjury stemming from his testimony to a House panel investigating the use of performance-enhancing drugs including steroids and human growth hormone.

Possible Sentence

The ballplayer faces as long as 21 months in prison if convicted. He denies having used the drugs. The government is trying to prove he used them and lied about it to Congress.

The prosecution’s evidence includes the needle and cotton with Clemens’s DNA that tested positive for anabolic steroids, prosecutors said. The material came from McNamee, who said he saved needles, gauze and vials from one of the injections in 2001. He told jurors he kept some of the items in a Miller Lite beer can that he took from the recycling bin in Clemens’s apartment.

McNamee has testified that he gave the ballplayer injections of steroids and HGH during the 1998, 2000 and 2001 baseball seasons while both men worked for the Toronto Blue Jays and the Yankees.

Keel, who said he received the material in 2008, said two cotton balls that he was told by the government came from inside the Miller Lite contained Clemens’s DNA. He said one cotton ball had a blood stain, the other was a pus-type material. Keel said his tests showed only one in 15.4 trillion people would match the blood sample.

Smaller Probability

The needle, one used for intramuscular injections, was among the items not found in the beer can, also contained Clemens’s DNA, though on a much smaller probability range. Keel said that test was one out of about 450 Caucasians.

Clemens’s lawyer, Michael Attanasio, questioned whether the blood on the cotton ball could have come from a source other than an injection site.

“You know it’s not uncommon for a pitcher to have a blood blister on top of his finger after pitching,” Attanasio asked.

“Of course,” Keen answered.

Yankees Trainer

Two days earlier, Eugene Monahan, who was the athletic trainer for the Yankees from 1973 until last year, told jurors that he would routinely use diabetic needles to puncture blood blisters on players hands.

Jurors, who are able to submit questions for witnesses through Walton, asked more than 30 questions of Keel. Many of the questions echoed those asked earlier by Attanasio, such as who paid for the testing, why Keel didn’t test all of the medical waste he received, and whether Keel tested the beer can itself for biological material.

Walton said one of the questions the jury wanted to ask was, “what is the significance of a witness being an expert witness.”

The case is U.S. v. Clemens, 1:10-cr-00223, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Schoenberg in Washington at tschoenberg@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.


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