The wife of Brian McNamee, who claims he gave Roger Clemens steroids and human growth hormone, admitted she told her husband to “go after” the former star pitcher when he disclosed their son’s medical condition during a news conference in 2008.
Eileen McNamee, 42, under cross-examination by U.S. prosecutors in Clemens’s perjury trial today in Washington, bolstered the government’s contention that her husband wasn’t motivated by fame or money when he turned over physical evidence of drug injections to federal investigators.
Clemens and his lawyer, Rusty Hardin, called the 2008 news conference to rebut allegations in a congressional report that he used performance-enhancing drugs. During the event, they played a secretly recorded call from McNamee in an effort to show that McNamee, Clemens’s chief accuser in an investigation into drug use in Major League Baseball, was a desperate liar.
In the call, McNamee sought to get back into Clemens’s good graces and bid for his sympathy, telling his former employer that his 10-year-old son was dying. Eileen McNamee told jurors the public airing of the phone call infuriated her.
“I heard it and my son heard it,” she said. “Now my son thinks he’s dying.”
Eileen McNamee said that just before the call she had told her husband about blood test results for their son, who has juvenile diabetes. He was not dying, though his test results “weren’t great,” she said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Courtney Saleski asked Eileen McNamee about a phone message she left for her husband after the press conference.
“You said you wanted him to go after Mr. Clemens?” Saleski asked.
“Yes, I did,” Eileen McNamee said.
The McNamees are involved in a divorce proceeding in New York.
Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner as the best pitcher in his league, is charged with one count of obstructing a congressional investigation into the use of performance- enhancing drugs by professional athletes. He’s also charged with three counts of making false statements and two counts of perjury stemming from his testimony to a House panel. If convicted, he faces as long as 21 months in prison.
Eileen McNamee was one of six witnesses for the defense today, and Hardin said his side plans to rest its case tomorrow as the eighth week of trial ends. Prosecutors suggested in court papers that they plan to put on a rebuttal case.
Shortly before today’s proceedings finished, the jury heard from Clemens’s wife, Debbie. She explained how she and Clemens met at their Houston-area high school. She said they began dating years later, shortly after he was signed by the Boston Red Sox in 1984. They were married the same year.
She recounted their move to Boston, where they lived for 13 years and the birth dates of the couple’s four children.
In her 15 minutes on the stand, Debbie Clemens also took a swipe at the media, saying they made living in Boston “very miserable.”
“It was absolutely hard living a hero and a villain every day with what they were creating,” she said.
Hardin told U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton today that Debbie Clemens will testify that she received one injection of human growth hormone from Brian McNamee. This injection was given to her in the couple’s home while Clemens was away, he said.
Brian McNamee told Congress and the jury that Clemens knew about the injection, asked McNamee to obtain the drugs and was present for it.
Walton advised Debbie Clemens before she took the stand that admitting to criminal activity in court could put her in legal jeopardy. After consulting with Hardin, who is also her lawyer, she agreed to testify.
Eileen McNamee said that shortly after the press conference and playing of the call, her husband returned to their home to retrieve a FedEx box. He told her he was bringing it to his lawyers, she said.
Brian McNamee testified earlier that he saved needles, cotton and vials from one of the injections in 2001 and kept some of the items in a Miller Lite beer can that he took from the recycling bin in Clemens apartment. He said he stored the material in a FedEx box before giving it to federal investigators in 2008.
McNamee, who was the Yankees’ assistant strength and conditioning coach, is the prosecution’s only eyewitness to Clemens alleged drug use. He told jurors that he injected the ballplayer with steroids and HGH during the 1998, 2000 and 2001 baseball seasons while both men worked for the Toronto Blue Jays and the Yankees.
Eileen McNamee, who was called to testify by the defense, contradicted earlier testimony by her husband.
He had told jurors she knew of injections as early as 2001 and that he showed her the medical waste he brought home from Clemens’s apartment. He said he saved the material because she told him repeatedly he’d be the one to take the fall if something went wrong.
Eileen McNamee, a first-grade teacher in New York, said the first time her husband told her about injecting Clemens was a couple of days before former U.S. Senator George Mitchell released a report on steroids in Major League Baseball on Dec. 13, 2007. Mitchell named Clemens in the report as having used drugs on 16 occasions between 1998 and 2001.
She said her husband never told her what he’d kept in the FedEx box.
A juror, who submitted a question to Walton for Eileen McNamee, asked what she expected her husband would do when she told him to go after Clemens.
“I didn’t really care,” she said. “I just didn’t want him getting away with the situation he put my son in.”
She said she also blamed her husband for the information being disclosed. She said that when she left a message for him with the blood test results, he didn’t call her back and called Clemens instead.
“Was being a part of Mr. Clemens’s entourage far more important than his family?” Saleski asked.
“Yes, it was,” she said.
Eileen McNamee said that in a meeting with Hardin before she testified, Hardin apologized for playing the telephone call and said it was a lawyer’s idea, not Clemens’s.
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