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Bonds judge bars "barely intelligible" tape

SAN FRANCISCO - A federal judge has barred the jury in the Barry Bonds' perjury trial from hearing a newly discovered tape recording prosecutors say bolsters their case that the slugger knowingly took steroids.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston ruled the recording inadmissible because "it's barely intelligible" and what can be heard is irrelevant.

The tape was a conversation between Bonds' orthopedic surgeon Dr. Arthur Ting and his former business partner, Steve Hoskins. Hoskins secretly recorded the conversation in 2003.

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Prosecutors had hoped to use the tape to win back some of the momentum they lost when Ting severely damaged Hoskins' credibility.

Ting last week flatly denied Hoskins' testimony that the pair had about 50 conversations about Bonds and steroids. Ting said the two never discussed that topic.

Two transcripts of the tape released by the prosecution and defense indicate Hoskins brings up newspaper articles about a federal raid on a Bay Area lab, and the possible implications for Bonds. Ting replies with mostly short answers to Hoskins' statements.

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Prosecutors called several witnesses on Tuesday from a UCLA lab that tested a urine samples of Bonds' and then parts of the slugger's 2003 testimony to a federal grand jury were read into the record.

Bonds is charged with four counts of lying to that grand jury and one of obstruction for saying he never knowingly took performance-enhancing drugs.

After the grand jury transcript was finished, Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Parrella told the judge "at this point, the government rests."

Meanwhile, testimony in the trial has been postponed because one of the jurors called in sick.

The trial had been scheduled to enter its third week Monday following a three-day break.

Illston sent the jury home after juror No. 9, a data center engineer for Amazon.com, called in. Illston said the juror's note said the absence -- which she said was for gallstones -- would continue for "most likely the rest of the week." Illston said her clerk will need to "explore with him what his situation is."

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