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Jury selection moving slowly for Clemens trial on charges of lying about steroids
WASHINGTON (AP) ' More potential jurors are being qualified for the Roger Clemens perjury trial who know hardly anything about the record-shattering ex-pitcher.
Clemens watched Monday as most of the members of the jury pool said they knew little or nothing about him in this football town. One man just retired as a chef for the hometown Redskins, even though he said his football allegiance came from his hometown of Philadelphia.
"I'm a die-hard Eagles fan, but Dan Snyder was there with money," the man said of the Redskins owner to laughter in the courtroom. He also played football at Syracuse and said he remembered the late football star Lyle Alzado speaking out against steroid use in the days he played, but now he doesn't feel you can tell who is using. He was qualified along with 25 others by the afternoon.
Another woman who made it through to the next phase was also an Eagles fan, although she's a lifelong resident of Washington. She said she liked the team because of quarterback Michael Vick, who was convicted for his involvement in dogfighting. "I thought he was done wrong," she said.
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton was eager to qualify as many jurors as possible to get to opening arguments. He rejected a defense argument to dismiss one potential juror who spent 20 years as Defense Department investigator and acknowledged he would be inclined toward the prosecution. But he said he could be fair.
Another potential juror, a lawyer for the Federal Communications Commission, assured the courtroom she does not watch sports on television by saying she doesn't even know how to turn on the TV at home. She said her husband told her it looked like she was being called for the Clemens jury and she got him confused with all-star Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Roberto Clemente, who she apparently didn't realize died in 1972.
Thirty-six people need to be qualified before government and defense lawyers use their preemptory challenges to narrow the panel to 12 jurors and four alternates. Thirteen were turned away for reasons including medical issues, an inability to commit to a trial expected to last into August and biases against either Clemens or Congress for even investigating drugs in baseball.
Clemens is charged with six felonies for telling Congress under oath that he never used performance-enhancing drugs. He stands by the denial, but prosecutors say they can prove that is a lie.