SAN FRANCISCO - Barry Bonds is headed to trial next March on federal charges of lying to a grand jury about his use of performance-enhancing drugs.
The trial date was set yesterday after baseball's home-run king pleaded not guilty when he was arraigned on 15 felony counts of lying under oath and obstruction of justice.
Lead Bonds attorney Allen Ruby pleaded not guilty to the charges on the slugger's behalf, while Bonds stood silently in front of the judge. Later, Ruby agreed to a March 2, 2009, trial date before a second judge.
Bonds, 43, who has not signed with a team this season, pleaded not guilty to similar accusations last December, but a judge ordered prosecutors to rewrite the indictment.
Bonds was charged with 14 counts of lying under oath and one count of obstruction of justice.
Prosecutors say Bonds lied when he told a grand jury investigating the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, known as BALCO, in 2003 that he never knowingly took steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs.
A much smaller and subdued crowd attended the Bonds hearings yesterday than had showed up to his first federal court appearance Dec. 17. Dressed in a black, pinstripe suit, Bonds stepped out of a black SUV with his attorney and a couple bodyguards and entered the courthouse through a back entrance without addressing reporters.
A jury earlier this year convicted cyclist Tammy Thomas of lying to the same grand jury that Bonds is accused of misleading. Last month, another jury convicted track coach Trevor Graham of lying to federal investigators. In all, six of the 11 people charged in connection with the BALCO investigation were accused of lying during the government's investigation started in 2002.
"The outcome of other cases has no effect on ours," Ruby said outside court. "He didn't lie to the grand jury." *