Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX


May 2, 2012

Pettitte helps Clemens defense in perjury trial



Novitzky, tall and lanky with a shaved head, went through the evidence he collected from McNamee. That included needles, syringes, cotton balls and gauze, some of which he said contained steroids and HGH. Jurors saw the crushed Miller Lite beer can that McNamee said he used to store the materials.

McNamee has said he used the items while injecting Clemens. Novitzky said many were sent to a private lab for DNA testing. A lawyer for Clemens has called the evidence a "mixed-up hodgepodge of garbage."

Novitzky testified in a deep, authoritative voice, often looking at the jury while answering questions from the prosecutor. Jurors took notes and appeared more engaged than at other times in the trial.

The Clemens team didn't have the best of starts Thursday, even before entering the courtroom. Clemens forgot his wallet and didn't have his ID, so a court employee was summoned to confirm for security who he was. And Clemens' lawyer Rusty Hardin spilled coffee on his suit jacket and asked the judge if he could continue in a shirt and tie while the jacket dried. U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton obliged.

Harry Sandick, a former federal prosecutor who now defends white-collar cases, said Pettitte's 50/50 comment, at least by itself, will not be enough for the government to meet the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Sandick wondered whether prosecutors could have done a better job of preparing the jury for Pettitte's admission of some uncertainty. Letting the defense be the first to bring it out "makes it look as if the government was hiding something" even though the government had been aware of that for several years, Sandick said.

Back in 2008, Pettitte mentioned a few times in his own deposition to Congress that he might have misunderstood Clemens. At one point, under prodding from a congressional investigator, Pettitte said, "I don't think I misunderstood him." But even then, he added, "Six years later, when he told me that I did misunderstand him, you know, since '05 to this day, you know, I kind of felt that I might have misunderstood him."

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