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Bonds trial could turn on newly found recording

SAN FRANCISCO - A juror called in sick at the Barry Bonds perjury trial Monday, forcing testimony to be postponed, while the government tried to get new evidence admitted that could abruptly turn the case in its favor.

Federal prosecutors told U.S. District Judge Susan Illston that a secretly recorded conversation between Bonds' orthopedic surgeon Dr. Arthur Ting and the slugger's former business manager Steve Hoskins had been located this weekend. Prosecutors told Bonds' legal team Sunday night that Hoskins discovered the recording.

Depending on what that recording contains, and whether the jury hears it, the discovery could be a setback for Bonds. The man who owns the major league records for home runs in a career and a season is accused of lying to a grand jury in 2003 when he said he never knowingly took performance-enhancing drugs.

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Bonds, who played for San Francisco when he hit 73 homers in a season and when he broke Hank Aaron's career home-run record, has pleaded not guilty to one count of obstruction and four charges of lying to a grand jury.

When he initially entered his plea in December 2007, he was met by thousands of media, fans and others as television helicopters hovered overhead. Much of that attention was missing on when his trial began two weeks ago. About a dozen photographers milled outside, but few fans were there to see Bonds walk into the federal courthouse in San Francisco dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and silver tie.

While Bonds sat with his star-studded legal team at the defense table, Jeff Novitzky, the federal agent who led the investigation of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, joined the prosecutors. Bonds is the biggest name to go to trial from the BALCO probe.

Hoskins, a key prosecution witness, testified in the first week of the trial that he and Ting had at least 50 conversations about Bonds' alleged steroids use. But Ting denied that on the witness stand Thursday, and the contradiction of such an important witness appeared to mark a turning point in the case.

Now prosecutors want to play the newly discovered recording to counter Ting's damaging testimony. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Parrella said a transcript of the conversation was being made and the judge ordered both sides back to court later Monday to discuss the matter further.

The judge also said she would investigate the nature of the missing juror's illness, which court officials described as kidney stones. There's a possibility that juror No. 66 will be replaced by one of two alternates when court resumes on Tuesday.

There are currently eight women and four men on the jury. Both alternates are women.

The sick juror is an Antioch resident, age 60, a father of four and works as a data center engineer for Amazon.com.

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