McNamee's estranged wife denies nagging over Roger Clemens
Wearing a blue floral print dress, Eileen McNamee presented herself as a soft-spoken first-grade schoolteacher who never nagged her now-estranged husband about Roger Clemens. She went on to contradict the government's key witness many times — and even came up with a different brand of beer to associate with the crucial evidence in the perjury trial of the former pitcher.
On a day in which the judge lost his temper twice with Clemens' lawyers, the defence turned Wednesday to the soon-to-be-ex-wife of Brian McNamee. This was the woman who McNamee testified harangued him with the words "You're going to go down! You're going to go down! You're going to go down!" — pestering him until he saved medical waste from an alleged steroids injection of Clemens so that he wouldn't be the fall guy in any sort of drugs investigation.
She says she never said anything of the sort. She said McNamee didn't tell her back then that he was injecting Clemens, and that she wasn't especially bothered by the extended time her husband spent away from home working with the seven-time Cy Young Award winner. Brian McNamee said the days apart had become a source of friction in the marriage.
"I probably complained once in a while," Eileen McNamee said. "But I did not fuss about it."
Clemens is charged with lying when he told Congress in 2008 that he never used steroids or human growth hormone. Brian McNamee is the only witness to claim firsthand knowledge of Clemens using those substances. He testified last month that he injected Clemens in 1998, 2000 and 2001 and saved the needle and other waste from a 2001 injection. He said he put some of it in a Miller Lite can to bring home because his wife was giving him a "hard time every single day."
In testimony that sometimes sounded more like divorce court than criminal court — the couple are undergoing contentious divorce proceedings in New York — Eileen McNamee spun a narrative that could give the jury more pause when evaluating Brian McNamee's credibility.
Among the other differences in their stories:
- Brian McNamee testified that he showed his wife the needles and other waste from the injection as soon as he got home that night, and that she played a role in putting them — along with beer can — in a FedEx box. Eileen McNamee said she wasn't even aware the box was in the house until shortly afterward, when she discovered it on a shelf in the basement during a time of flooding in the neighbourhood. When she asked him about the box, she said he replied that he was "saving things for his protection and it was none of my concern." She said he didn't tell her what was in the box and that he didn't connect it to Clemens.
- Eileen McNamee said she saw the box again two or three years later in her husband's bedroom closet and that it was open. She said she pulled out the contents and saw some vials and what appeared to be unused needles. She said she didn't recall seeing a beer can in the box, but that there was Bud Light can with syringes sitting next to the box. She said she put the items back in the box and never mentioned them to her husband.
- Eileen McNamee indicated that the couple's marriage began to deteriorate because of an incident in Florida in 2001 — and not because of her husband's relationship with Clemens. The jury has heard the 2001 incident referred to only as a "serious criminal investigation," but it involved Brian McNamee being questioned about an alleged sexual assault in connection with a woman who was found to have a date rape drug in her system. He was not charged.
Brian McNamee moved out of the couple's home shortly before the 2007 Mitchell Report on drugs in baseball was released. It was only then that she said he told her about his involvement with Clemens and performance-enhancing drugs. The report was the first public mention of McNamee's claim that he injected Clemens.
Eileen McNamee was granted immunity before her testimony because her husband linked her to transactions involving prescription drugs that could, in theory, have led to charges against her.
The government will get a chance to cross-examine Eileen McNamee on Thursday and will no doubt question her motives because of the parallel divorce proceedings. Earlier in the Clemens trial, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton quipped about divorce court: "Everybody lies in that court."
While her testimony might keep Clemens out of jail, the judge sounded ready to put Clemens' lawyers in a lockup during two outbursts from the bench.
First, the judge lambasted Michael Attanasio for not being forthcoming to the prosecution about the line of questioning he was planning to use with the defence's DNA expert.
"There's no excuse for this, Mr. Attanasio. ... You all have been playing fast and loose, and I'm sick and tired of it!" Walton yelled. He said he blamed both sides, and noted that if he kept the expert off the stand it would be unfair to Clemens, but: "Sometimes when you roll the dice, you lose!"
Later, Walton became furious with Clemens' Houston-based lawyer, Rusty Hardin, during a debate over the nature of Eileen McNamee's testimony.
"I don't know how you all practise law down in Texas ... ," Walton began.
Hardin bristled and interrupted: "Same as anywhere else."
Walton stormed back: "Just as you can get mad, I can get mad too! Don't look at me like you're going to intimidate me, sir!"
Walton later apologized to Hardin.
The defence used their DNA expert, Mark Scott Taylor of Technical Associates Inc., to suggest that the beer can evidence could have been contaminated or tainted. The government earlier produced an expert who said Clemens' DNA was found on two cotton balls inside the beer can and that a likely match for his DNA was found on a needle outside the can.