The Barry Bonds trial reached arguably its most dramatic moment (short of the verdict) as Bonds' ex-girlfriend Kimberly Bell testified today. Bell was on the government witness list to describe physical and emotional changes in Bonds, as well as his admission of steroid use and his relationship with Greg Anderson. She went through her direct testimony with relative ease, although she did start to cry a little bit when she described Barry's anger at her once he started using steroids. The real fireworks began on cross examination as Bonds attorney Cristina Arguendas began doing everything she could to discredit Bell's testimony.
I won't use this post to go into a ton of detail. You can find detailed tweets through @markfwespn, @georgedohrman, @freedarko, and @gwenknapp. The cross examination covered Bell's planned appearance in Playboy, her appearance on the Geraldo Rivera show, her proposed book, and everything in between. Rather than go after that substance of her testimony, the defense was trying to destroy her credibility. That was to be expected because the evidentiary value of Bell's testimony was really only about five to ten minutes of her whole testimony.
The pertinent substantive testimony was about the back acne, Bonds' admission of steroid use, and Bell seeing Bonds and Anderson go off to a backroom with a little satchel. Really the rest of her direct examination was just window dressing. In attacking Bell's credibility on cross examination, Arguendas had a tough go from what I observed. Initially Arguendas went with a pit bull style of cross in which she tried to break down Bell. However, unlike Steve Hoskins, Kimberly Bell did a solid job parrying the various questions form Arguendas. Prior to the morning break at 10:15am, Bell was holding her own and seemed to be winning the exchange.
After the break, Arguendas attempted to tone down her demeanor, even apologizing if she was disrespecting Bell. Arguendas' tone continued to rise at times, but it was a slightly lighter attacking style. However, the crux of the testimony between the 10:15am break and the noon lunch break actually might have hurt Bell's credibility. The questions focused on Bell's publicity work and book deal, as Arguendas attempted to paint her as an individual with a long range plan to bring down Barry and boost her own publicity.
It was hard to figure out Bell at times because she bounced between painting herself as a victim and remaining in control of the situation. As the folks at @freedarko put it:
KB wants to reserve the right to have been led by the nose, but resents Aguerdas treating her like she's stupid.
I really have no idea how the jury will view all this. Coming off Bell's tears during testimony about Barry threatening her and scaring her, the initially aggressive cross examination likely turned off at least some members of the jury. However, when Bell began throwing her former publicist Aphrodite Jones under the bus, one has to wonder if that also turned off the jurors.
It becomes a battle for credibility. Whether or not Bell had an agenda, was she telling the truth? The problem with having her and Hoskins as your two key witnesses is that they are providing he said-she said evidence. It personifies this trial where we've got little bits and pieces coming together, but we're missing significant chunks of the puzzle that would be necessary to convict Bonds on the whole slate of charges.
As the trial moves on I find myself more and more intrigued by the potential verdict. How does a juror handle a case filled with circumstantial evidence and no real smoking gun that is admissible? At this point, I don't think there's any way the government can get convictions on all five counts of the indictment. I think one or two counts could happen, but even that might be a stretch.