Barry Bonds asks judge to toss out perjury case

Updated: January 23, 2008, 6:19 PM ET
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds asked a federal judge to dismiss perjury charges against him Wednesday, arguing the indictment is "scattershot" and noted for its "striking inartfulness."

Bonds was charged in November with lying to a grand jury about his use of performance-enhancing drugs.

In the motion filed in San Francisco federal court, the former San Francisco Giant neither admits nor denies taking the drugs, but argues the questions asked by prosecutors during a December 2003 grand jury appearance were vague, ambiguous and confusing.

The lawyers said "the questions posed to him by two different prosecutors were frequently imprecise, redundant, overlapping and frequently compound."

Prosecutors asked Bonds several times whether personal trainer Greg Anderson supplied him with steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs beginning in 2000. Bonds answered "no" or "not at all," but his lawyers argued the questions were not clear.

Bonds' lawyers asked U.S. District Judge Susan Illston to toss the case or order prosecutors to streamline the indictment, which cites 19 different instances of Bonds' alleged lying. Bonds, a free agent, has pleaded not guilty to four charges of perjury and one count of obstruction.

Prosecutor Matt Parrella declined comment.

Such motions to dismiss cases are frequently filed, though rarely granted in federal criminal cases.

The court papers do offer an early glimpse at Bonds' legal strategy. Legal experts said prosecutors must prove Bonds lied and that their questions before the grand jury were direct and open to little interpretation.

Bonds' lawyers wrote "some portions of the indictment are so vague that it is simply impossible to be certain what untruths Mr. Bonds is alleged to have uttered."

Former Olympic cyclist Tammy Thomas, also charged with lying about her drug use, similarly argued last year for her case to be dismissed. She said multiple alleged instances of her lying were lumped confusingly into a single charge.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston, who's hearing all cases related to the BALCO steroids ring, has not ruled on Thomas' motion.

Illston is scheduled to hear from Bonds' legal team Feb. 29.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index