By FREDERIC J. FROMMER, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — "My heart's pounding," Debbie Clemens said just before she walked into a federal courtroom to take the stand in her husband's perjury trial.
Lawyers on both sides of the Roger Clemens case are ready for key testimony from her about her husband's alleged use of human growth hormone as the defense nears the end of its case.
Debbie Clemens, who spent only 15 minutes on the stand Thursday fielding background questions before court recessed for the day, was to get to the crux of her testimony Friday. She was expected to say that she received a shot of HGH from Clemens' then-strength coach, Brian McNamee, about 12 years ago, and that her husband wasn't present.
McNamee, the government's key witness, testified last month that not only was the star baseball pitcher there, he had summoned McNamee to the couple's master bathroom in Houston to give Debbie Clemens the drug.
McNamee said she looked at her husband and said, "I can't believe you're going to let him do this to me," and Clemens responded, "He injects me. Why can't he inject you?"
Clemens is charged with lying to Congress when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs. Among the false statement he's alleged to have made are that he never used HGH and that McNamee injected his wife without Clemens' prior knowledge or approval.
Wearing a cream-colored suit, Debbie Clemens told U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton that she was being represented by her husband's lawyer, Rusty Hardin. Walton gave her a few minutes to talk to Hardin about her right not to incriminate herself, after which she came back and said she was ready to testify.
Hardin earlier had told Walton that the HGH injection happened so long ago that the statute of limitations would bar charges against her now.
Debbie Clemens testified briefly Thursday about the couple's time in Boston, where her husband pitched for the Red Sox from 1984 to 1996. She recalled that son Koby, born in 1986, was dubbed "most valuable baby" because his father was MVP that year.
For the benefit of the jury, Walton asked her what MVP meant.
"Most valuable baby," she said, prompting laughter in the courtroom — including a rare laugh from her husband across the room. She quickly corrected her answer to most valuable player.
She also said that while she liked Boston, "the media could be very miserable. It was hard living a hero and a villain every other day, what they were creating."
After the court recessed, Roger Clemens came up behind his wife in the hallway and put his arm around her.
Earlier Thursday, McNamee's wife, Eileen, testified, but there was no embrace waiting for her, as the couple is going through a contentious divorce. She said she was furious with both her husband and Clemens when the former pitcher's lawyers allowed details of the McNamees' oldest son's diabetes to be revealed during a 2008 nationally televised news conference.
The news conference was part of a media blitz during which Clemens denied the doping allegations McNamee made about the pitcher in the then-just-released Mitchell Report on drugs in baseball. Hardin and Clemens played a taped phone call in which McNamee told Clemens, "My son is dying."
That wasn't true, Eileen McNamee said, although she had left her husband a message around that time about blood test results that weren't what they were supposed to be.
"Brian didn't bother to call me back. He called Roger and told him his son was dying," she testified.
Then her 10-year-old son heard the news conference, and "now my son thinks he's dying."
Prosecutor Courtney Saleski said Clemens could have kept the information about her son out of the news conference, but instead, "he played it for the world."
"Yes, he did," Eileen McNamee said. She acknowledged that she called her husband and told him to go after Clemens.
The next day, around 3 a.m., 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, which is the key physical evidence against Clemens.