Outfielder Barry Bonds has spent more time in court over the last year than he has on the field. He is battling federal perjury charges in the BALCO laboratory steroids investigation. (Photo by David Paul Morris/Getty Images)
A federal judge on Thursday barred the jury at Barry Bonds' perjury trial from hearing angry voicemails the home run king left with his mistress during a stormy nine-year relationship.
Prosecutors wanted to introduce the voicemails to show that Bonds was experiencing so-called "roid rage" when he left the messages demanding to know the whereabouts of Kimberly Bell.
But U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston said Thursday that the voicemails had little relevance to proving Bonds lied when he denied knowingly taking steroids. Illston said she believed prosecutors were trying to get the voicemails into the trial for the sole reason of denigrating Bonds in front of the jury.
Prosecutors released dozens of voicemails Wednesday and told the judge they wanted to play 11 of them for the panel. Bonds' trial begins Monday.
But in barring their use, Illston said the recordings evidentiary value appeared "very limited" and appeared to "prejudicial" to Bonds.
Bell also is scheduled to testify that her relationship with Bonds was a stormy one marked by the slugger's increasing verbal abuse. She also will tell the jury of physical changes she witnessed Bonds go through, such as male pattern baldness that prosecutors attribute to steroid use.
Prosecutors didn't provide dates of the messages. Bonds and Bell dated from 1994 to 2003.
A few of the recordings showed a playful and caring Bonds calling Bell his "little spark plug" who brings "a lot of bright stuff to my life." He leaves several similar messages around a Valentine's Day.
"Hello? I'm working out right now, but I'm calling you to wish you a happy, happy, happy, happy Valentine's, 'cause you worth all that and all them wishes. Love to you baby, peace."
Another shows him complaining about his inability to drop by Bell's apartment because his Porsche broke down and his wife and children need the other car, a Mercedes.
"Just chill and I'll catch up with you," he says.
But many others are darker and abusive, as Bonds uses graphic language to insult and intimidate Bell.
"You better reach out and page me once in a while or you're up to something other than that," he says in one of the few angry voicemails devoid of profanity. "Girl, I ain't playing."
Bonds also, at one point, admonishes Bell: "don't forget to erase your messages, later."
On Thursday, Illston also prohibited prosecutors from questioning lead investigator Jeff Novitzky about his conversation with Bonds' personal trainer Greg Anderson during a 2002 raid of his apartment. Prosecutors want jurors to hear that Anderson refused to answer questions about Bonds.
But Illston has ruled off limits most evidence connected to Anderson because of his refusal to testify at the trial.