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Dave Albee: Making a statement with my 2013 Baseball Hall of Fame voting
Despite all that determination and all that effort, prosecutors on Wednesday were confronted with the realization that they may have bungled the case all over again, this time because of an unexpected twist in testimony from Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte.
Pettitte, Clemens’s former teammate and close friend, first took the stand Tuesday, when he testified that Clemens admitted to him in 1999 or 2000 that he had used human growth hormone, a performance enhancer now banned by Major League Baseball.
But in a huge blow to the prosecution, Pettitte went back on the stand Wednesday and backpedaled, saying he was not so sure as to what Clemens actually said to him 12 or 13 years ago.
Pettitte’s retreat came when Michael Attanasio, one of Clemens’s lawyers, asked him: “As you sit here today, you believe in your heart of hearts and your mind that you very well might have misunderstood Mr. Clemens. Sitting here now, you’re 50-50 that you misunderstood him, is that fair?”
Looking exasperated, Pettitte answered, “I’d say that’s fair.”
That answer could haunt prosecutors because it has the potential to destroy what appears to be the best part of their case: that Pettitte — a person without any apparent reason to harm his former mentor — would nevertheless feel compelled to state under oath that Clemens had spoken of using drugs.
Instead, as a result of Pettitte’s backtracking, the prosecution now must contend with a motion by the defense to have Pettitte’s testimony about his initial H.G.H. conversation with Clemens dismissed as evidence because it is “insufficiently definitive.”
Assistant United States Attorney Steven Durham — one of the lawyers who showed inadmissible evidence to the jury in last summer’s mistrial — might have been able to limit the damage on Wednesday with his follow-up questions to Pettitte.
But Durham seemed to stumble again, never specifically trying to attack the “50-50” notion by asking Pettitte for his current recollection of the conversation he had with Clemens a dozen or so years ago.
With the jury out of the courtroom, the judge in the case, Reggie Walton of United States District Court, told Dunham that is what he should have done but didn’t.
“His testimony now before the jury is, ‘I don’t know,’ ” Walton said to Durham. “I thought that what we would hear is, ‘Mr. Pettitte, currently, what is your memory of what Mr. Clemens told you back in 1999?’ ”
“I was waiting for you to ask, and you didn’t ask that,” he told Durham.
Prosecutors probably knew that Pettitte’s account of the 1999 or 2000 conversation had some potential cracks in it. In a deposition he gave to Congress in 2008, Pettitte spoke of a conversation in 2005 with Clemens. In that exchange, Pettitte said, Clemens maintained that he never said in 1999 or 2000 that he had taken H.G.H and that it was his wife who had used the substance.
“When Roger told me that he didn’t take it, and I misunderstood him, I took it for that, that I misunderstood him,” he said in the deposition. Still, prosecutors probably never foresaw Pettitte’s testimony going this wrong.
Pettitte is considered critical to the case because he does not have the credibility issues that the government’s key witness, Brian McNamee, does. It is McNamee, Clemens’s former trainer, who is expected to testify he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone.
Pettitte’s testimony on Wednesday was not the only disappointment for the government. [Emphasis added]
So, how was Piazza at pitch-framing any way?
I am willing to discount that, but haven't heard why I should.
 Pettitte absolutely changed his testimony.
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