Eileen McNamee echoes husband's fury at Clemens

June 7, 2012 - 6:12 PM
Clemens Trial Baseball

Former Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens, left, arrives at federal court for his perjury trial, Thursday, June 7, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Eileen McNamee's story differs with her husband's in several ways, and her own version appears to have changed somewhat over the years, but there's little doubt about one thing the estranged couple have in common: They both were furious when details of their oldest son's medical condition were revealed at a Roger Clemens news conference four years ago.

Eileen McNamee said she called Brian McNamee right away and left a voicemail.

"I told him," she said, "not to let him get away with it."

The next day, Brian McNamee retrieved the evidence that he said had been kept in and around a beer can inside a FedEx box for more than six years, the remnants of an alleged steroids injection of Clemens in 2001. The needle and cotton balls are among the key evidence in the perjury trial of the former star baseball pitcher, who is charged with lying to Congress in 2008 when he denied using performance-enhancing substances.

Brian McNamee testified last month that he injected Clemens with steroids in 1998, 2000 and 2001 and with human growth hormone in 2000.

There's another wife involved in the case who is expected to contradict some of Brian McNamee's testimony. Debbie Clemens took the stand late Thursday to begin her much-anticipated testimony on behalf of her husband, but there was only time for her to answer mostly questions about her background before court adjourned for the day.

"My heart's pounding," Debbie Clemens said in the hallway seconds before entering U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton's sixth-floor courtroom. She is expected to testify Friday that she received an HGH shot from Brian McNamee about 12 years ago and that her husband wasn't present, thus differing with McNamee about the year and circumstances of the injection.

Eileen McNamee — subpoenaed by the defense — was on the stand Thursday for a second day, and the government's cross-examination highlighted discrepancies between her testimony at the trial and what she told the FBI three years ago.

She told the jury Wednesday that when she discovered the box in their home and asked her husband about it, he told her it was for his protection and wasn't any of her concern. She also said he didn't mention Clemens or any other players.

But on cross-examination, prosecutor Courtney Saleski asked about a 2009 FBI interview in which Eileen McNamee said her husband told her the contents of the box were from players.

"I don't recall," Eileen McNamee replied.

Explaining other discrepancies, the first-grade teacher said she was "very nervous" during the interview with the two FBI agents, which took place in the investigators' car as she was leaving school.

Major differences remain in the testimonies of the McNamees, who are undergoing contentious divorce proceedings in New York. Eileen McNamee says she didn't pester her husband into the saving the evidence and didn't help him place it in the box, as Brian McNamee claimed.

However, they do dovetail in one other respect: Brian McNamee's motive in storing the box of drug waste. Her testimony that he said years ago he was keeping it for his protection meshes with his testimony that he didn't want to be a fall guy if the alleged drug injections were ever investigated.

Eileen McNamee made it clear she isn't a fan of either side in this case and pointed out she was testifying because she "didn't have a choice." She bit her lip and asked the judge for a break to compose herself at the mention of the nationally televised 2008 Clemens news conference, when a 17-minute taped telephone conversation between Clemens and Brian McNamee was played.

The news conference was part of a media blitz during which Clemens repeatedly denied the doping allegations McNamee made about the pitcher in the then-just-released Mitchell Report on drugs in baseball. McNamee said on the phone call "My son is dying," having apparently misinterpreted or exaggerated information he received from his wife about the results of a blood test on the 10-year-old boy.

"He was not dying — like Brian said and Roger played on the TV. ... Now he hears it on TV. My son thinks he's dying," Eileen McNamee said.

The battle between Clemens and Brian McNamee "didn't concern my son. It had nothing to with him," Eileen McNamee added, using almost the same words her husband used on the same stand three weeks ago.

Clemens lawyer Rusty Hardin took the blame for the playing of the tape, and Eileen McNamee said he had apologized for it.

"I'm still hurt and bothered by it. ... It was dumb," she said.

"But you're still as angry as can be at your husband?" Saleski asked during follow-up questioning.

Eileen McNamee acknowledged that was true.

Debbie Clemens' testimony should be just as intriguing. One of the charges against her husband is his claim before Congress that he had no prior knowledge of the HGH injection McNamee gave Debbie Clemens. McNamee says Roger Clemens was present for the injection.

McNamee also offered varying estimates about the date of the injection, placing it anywhere from 2002 to 2004. Debbie Clemens is expected to say it took place in 2000.

During her brief time on the stand Thursday, Debbie Clemens spoke of the life one leads as the wife of a baseball player for the Boston Red Sox, where her husband played for 13 years.

"The media could be very miserable," she said. "It was hard living a hero and a villain every other day, what they were creating."

While Eileen McNamee's story might have evolved, so has Brian McNamee's. The defense again reinforced that point by calling two lawyers who took part in interviews with Brian McNamee in 2007 while helping to put together the Mitchell Report. McNamee, for instance, told Mitchell Report investigators during one interview that he injected Clemens with steroids in July or August 1998. His testimony at the trial placed the first injection in June.

Also Thursday, Drug Enforcement Administration chemist Terrence Boos, who earlier testified for the prosecution, returned as a defense witness to identify the brand names of the steroids found in the evidence from the FedEx box. The defense contends that the steroids were mixed — or "stacked" — in a way that contradicts McNamee's testimony.

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Associated Press writer Frederic J. Frommer contributed to this report.

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