Bonds' Day in Court Will Have to Wait Until Next Year

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Bonds walks out of a San Francisco courtroom.

    The long-delayed federal trial of former San Francisco Giants  slugger Barry Bonds on charges of lying to a grand jury will probably take  place in March.
         
    At a hearing in San Francisco Friday, prosecutors, defense lawyers  and U.S. District Judge Susan Illston targeted March 2011 as the likely date  when all will be available.

    The attorneys will return to Illston's court on Aug. 6 for setting  of a final date.

    Bonds, who turns 46 on Saturday, is accused of lying to a federal  grand jury on Dec. 4, 2003, when he said he never knowingly took steroids.

    The panel was investigating illegal drug distribution by the Bay  Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO. Bonds faces 10 counts of false  statements and one count of obstruction of justice.

    A March trial would be two years after the former Giants star's  original trial date of March 2, 2009. That trial was abruptly halted three  days before its start when prosecutors decided to appeal an unfavorable  evidence ruling issued by Illston.

    Last month, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the  ruling, and prosecutors gave up any further appeals, thus clearing the way  for scheduling a new trial date.

    The disputed evidence was three drug tests from 2000 and 2001 that  allegedly showed the use of steroids.

    Illston ruled, and the appeals court agreed, that prosecutors  couldn't use that evidence unless Bonds' trainer, Greg Anderson, testifies to  link urine samples used in the tests to Bonds. Anderson has refused to  testify.

    Bonds was not present at the brief hearing, but four of his seven  defense lawyers and two of the four prosecutors were on hand.

    Outside of court, the defense attorneys reiterated their previous  assertions that Bonds is innocent and there won't be a plea bargain.

    "Absolutely not. No chance," said defense attorney Cristina  Arguedas in answer to a question about a possible plea agreement.

    Lead defense attorney Allen Ruby said, "Barry Bonds is innocent.   We felt from the first day that the government's evidence proves nothing."

    Prosecutors declined to comment outside of court.

    Illston offered a trial date in September, but the defense  attorneys said they would not be available then. The judge said the next  opening in her trial schedule is in March.

    In addition to allegedly lying when he said he never knowingly  took steroids, Bonds is accused of making false statements when he told the  grand jury he never received testosterone or human growth hormone from  Anderson and never was injected by Anderson.

    He is one of 11 people charged with either perjury or the illegal  distribution of sports drugs in connection with the BALCO probe. The others  have been convicted or pleaded guilty.

    Bonds set the Major League Baseball career home run record while  playing for the San Francisco Giants in 2007. He also set the single-season  record with 73 home runs in 2001.