Expert witness: Clemens' DNA linked to cotton balls, needle

6:09 PM, May 25, 2012   |    comments
Roger Clemens throws part of a broken bat toward Mike Piazza in the 2000 World Series
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WASHINGTON -- Roger Clemens' DNA has been linked to two cotton balls and a syringe needle his former strength trainer said he collected, according to the government's DNA expert witness, Alan Keel, who performed tests on a variety of medical waste in February 2008.

The likelihood of encountering someone with same DNA as Clemens in one of the cotton balls (the one with blood) is 1 in 15.4 trillion in U.S. Caucasian population, Keel said at Clemens' perjury trial Friday morning. The other cotton ball's odds? 1 in 173 trillion in the U.S. Caucasian population for the cotton ball that has a "pus deposit."

Keel, a forensic scientist who has studied DNA since 1989, said the needle was linked to Clemens' DNA, but in a much less definitive way because there was such little DNA material on it (six to 12 cells). The random match possibility is 1 in 449 U.S. Caucasian population.

That means one random person out of 449 could possess the same genetic traits shown in the biological material from the needle. Keel wouldn't call Clemens a "match" with the biological material from the needle because he said he doesn't feel comfortable calling someone a "match" unless he can eliminate every other person who's ever lived in the world.

Keel was asked if the DNA on the needle could have been faked.

"No," Keel said. "If this were contrived, I would expect to find much more biological material."

Keel said he tested all of the medical waste, which included a gauze pad and tissue he linked to Clemens' former strength trainer, Brian McNamee, back in February 2008. Keel then tested five "known samples" in October 2008 to try to link DNA to the material he had previously tested.

Two days ago, Keel said he discovered the identity of the five known samples: Roger Clemens, Brian McNamee, Richard Emery, Earl Ward and Debbie Greenberger. Emery, Ward and Greenberger were McNamee's lawyers in January 2008.

The cotton balls were from a Miller Lite beer can that McNamee used to collect the medical waste, which McNamee said he saved in August 2001.

Asked earlier in the trial if the cotton balls in the can were used on Clemens, McNamee testified that he wasn't certain. The defense is trying to convince the jury that the evidence has been tainted and contaminated with materials that didn't belong to Clemens.

During Keel's cross-examination Friday, Clemens' defense lawyer Mike Attanasio asked Keel whether genetic material could be transferred/contaminated if there were multiple items "jostling around" in a beer can.

"It's conceivable," Keel said.

Clemens is charged with lying to Congress in 2008 when he said he never used performance-enhancing drugs, but McNamee testified that he injected Clemens with steroids in 1998, 2000 and 2001 as well as HGH in 2000.

 

By Nicole Auerbach, USA TODAY

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