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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Former Major League Baseball (MLB) All-Star pitcher Roger Clemens was acquitted Monday of all six criminal counts against him on charges that he lied to Congress when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs.
The not guilty verdicts were announced at 4:45 p.m. local time in a federal courtroom in Washington, D.C. ESPN reporter T.J. Quinn, who was in the courtroom during the entire trial, noted that Clemens was smiling and laughing with his attorney before the verdict was announced, while the prosecution table was "stone faced." Following the reading of the verdict, Clemens was seen squeezing his attorney's hand.
Judge Reggie Walton then said, "Mr. Clemens, you're free to go."
Clemens later thanked his supporters and teammates in a brief statement. "I want to thank those people who took time out of their schedules to come in on my behalf," he said. "It's kind of uncomfortable for me to sit there and hear people talk about you, good or bad. But I just want to say I appreciate everyone who came in."
Clemens said the lengthy trial has been hard on his family, who gathered around him along with supporters as he spoke to journalists. "Really all you media guys that know me and follow my career," he said, before choking up and being applauded. "I put a lot of hard work into that career," he added. "So again, I appreciate my teammates that came in and all the emails and phone calls."
His attorney, Rusty Hardin, said "justice won out" and praised the jury. "It's been 4.5 years since we listened to a picture that doesn't match up at all with the man we have known, grown to know and love," he said. "He was not only a seven time Cy Young winner, he's a hell of a man. And anybody that attended this trial, and listened to that evidence, hopefully now knows it. And those of you who didn't attend, get the record. I have believed and loved in this man – and this whole team has – for 4.5 years."
Clemens was first charged with two counts of perjury, three counts of making false statements and one count of obstructing Congress in August 2010. The charges stemmed from a February 2008 deposition leading up to a televised hearing on steroid use in baseball. Clemens claimed that he had never taken performance-enhancing drugs (PED), but his name was mentioned 82 times on George Mitchell's Report on Steroid Use in Baseball.
Following the deposition, Clemens' former strength coach Brian McNamee claimed to have personally injected Clemens with steroids in 1998, 2000 and 2001 and with Human Growth Hormone in 2000. Clemens denied these charges. He first went to trial on the six charges in July of last year, but a mistrial was quickly called after the prosecution brought in evidence that U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton had previously disallowed.
Prosecutors decided to retry Clemens and jury selection began in April. A jury of four women and eight men listened to 26 days of testimony from 46 different witnesses, including investigators, DNA experts, baseball officials and former teammates of Clemens.
Clemens had a 24-year Major League Baseball career with five different teams. He was an 11-time all-star, 7-time Cy Young award winner, and the 1986 American League Most Valuable Player. He retired following the 2007 season.