SAN FRANCISCO — Federal prosecutors on Wednesday released transcripts and recordings of voicemail messages Barry Bonds left for his former mistress during their nine-year relationship.
They don’t portray Bonds in a flattering light.
Most of the messages show Bonds angrily inquiring after Kimberly Bell’s whereabouts. Prosecutors say the recordings and transcripts are evidence of Bonds’ steroid use because the drugs supposedly induce rage in some users.
Both sides on Wednesday also agreed on an 18-page questionnaire prospective jurors will be asked to fill out as Bonds’ perjury trial gets underway Monday. The 63 questions will help lawyers and the judge seat an impartial jury. It asks them if they attended San Francisco Giants games in the last five years, if they’ve heard about athletes abusing steroids and whether they “blog” and how often they “use the Internet.”
They also are asked: “Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Barry Bonds?”
While both sides have agreed to the wording of the questionnaire, they are sharply divided over whether the jury should hear the recordings Bonds left for Bell. Prosecutors want to play 11 of the voicemails for the panel.
Bell also is scheduled to testify that her relationship with Bonds was a stormy one marked by the slugger’s increasing verbal abuse. She also will tell the jury of physical changes she witnessed Bonds go through, such as male pattern baldness that prosecutors attribute to steroid use.
Bonds’ attorneys are seeking to exclude the recordings. They argue the material is irrelevant because there is no mention of peformance-enhancing drug use.
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“However lamentable the fact may be, the use of profane and angry language between paramours is an everyday occurrence,” defense lawyer Dennis Riordan wrote in a filing with the court.
Riordan said he would argue for inclusion of all voicemails Bell recorded and kept. Riordan hinted that if the voicemails were allowed at trial the defense would argue that Bell’s sexual history, rather than steroids, was “the cause of any emotionally fraught language on the recordings.”
Prosecutors last week released transcripts of the 11 voicemails they hope to play for the jury and additional voicemails Wednesday “for the court’s convenience in light of the briefing on this matter.”
Prosecutors don’t provide dates of the messages. Bonds and Bell dated from 1994 to 2003.
A few of the recordings showed a playful and caring Bonds calling Bell his “little spark plug” who brings “a lot of bright stuff to my life.” He leaves several similar messages around a Valentine’s Day.
“Hello? I’m working out right now, but I’m calling you to wish you a happy, happy, happy, happy Valentine’s, ’cause you worth all that and all them wishes. Love to you baby, peace.”
Another shows him complaining about his inability to drop by her apartment because his Porsche broke down and his wife and children need the other car, a Mercedes.
“Just chill and I’ll catch up with you,” he says.
But many others are darker and abusive. He calls her a “slut” in one, and uses more graphic language in others.
“You better reach out and page me once in a while or you’re up to something other than that,” he says in one of the few angry voicemails devoid of profanity. “Girl, I ain’t playing.”
Bonds also, at one point, admonishes Bell: “don’t forget to erase your messages, later.”