Clemens lawyer questions evidence handling

Brian McNamee, former personal trainer for Roger Clemens, Brian McNamee, former personal trainer for Roger Clemens, leaves Federal court in Washington. (May 25, 2010) Photo Credit: AP

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WASHINGTON -- Rogers Clemens' defense team began laying the groundwork Monday to challenge key government evidence including used needles, swabs and cotton balls that the former Yankee pitcher's trainer said he used to inject Clemens with steroids.

Defense attorney Michael Attanasio questioned FBI agent John Longmire about how he handled the materials, noting that Longmire had known their whereabouts at all times and protected them from any "untoward" handling. Attanasio indicated that that was a sharp contrast to the materials' handling by the trainer, Brian McNamee.

McNamee, the chief accuser in the retired pitcher's trial on charges he lied to Congress about steroid use, had kept the materials for nearly seven years in a FedEx box, with a syringe, swabs and broken ampule shoved into a crumpled 16- ounce Miller Lite beer can.

Asked by Attanasio if he would keep evidence that way, Longmire, an FBI agent for six years, said, "That's not what they trained us to do."

Attanasio also asked Longmire about the extent of his investigation. Longmire testified he had conducted more than 200 interviews in person across the country, along with a handful by telephone with people in Germany, Mexico and Puerto Rico.

In his opening statement, Clemens' attorney, Rusty Hardin, had noted that the effort had failed to produce any other witness in addition to McNamee who reported having seen Clemens use steroids.

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Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Durham, meanwhile, introduced photographs of Clemens' Manhattan apartment, McNamee's Breezy Point house at the time of the injections and other locations prosecutors are expected to refer to in introducing evidence of use or discussion of steroids.

As the trial entered its fourth week, U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton complained again about the slow pace.

But Durham announced that with a shortened trial day Wednesday to accommodate a juror's doctor appointments, he might not put his most important witness -- McNamee -- on the stand until next week. Last week, Durham said he planned to call McNamee Tuesday.

Earlier Monday, Jeff Novitzky, a special agent with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, testified that McNamee was such a nervous, reluctant witness that federal agents once feared he was not going to show up to a meeting with former Sen. George Mitchell, who investigated and issued a report on steroids in professional baseball.

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