SAN FRANCISCO — Kimberly Bell, her voice cracking, looked out at the court room and talked about the final stretch of her nine-year relationship with Barry Bonds.
The greatest hitter of his era threatened “to cut my head off and leave me in a ditch,” she said. “More than once.”
She said Bonds told her “he would cut out my breast implants because he paid for them.”
As for the Arizona house he had helped pay for, “he told me he would burn it down.”
Bonds’ federal trial resumed Monday with nearly daylong testimony from his former mistress, who said the slugger attributed a 1999 elbow injury to steroids use. She also discussed how Bonds became verbally abusive and said that his physique changed, offering a lurid description of his shrinking testicles, back acne, scalp hair that fell out and chest hair that turned gray. Such mental and physical symptoms are associated with steroid use.
Prosecutors allege Bonds lied when he told a federal grand jury in 2003 that he never knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs.
PHOTO: Kimberly Bell
Bell met Bonds in 1994 and testified that from 1999 to 2001, “he was just increasingly aggressive, irritable, agitated, very impatient.”
In testimony similar to that of former Bonds business partner Steve Hoskins last week, she said that in at least two different years at spring training, she saw Bonds and personal trainer Greg Anderson “go into a bedroom off the kitchen and close and lock the door.”
She said Anderson “would always have a little satchel with him.” She saw those scenes played out multiple times.
Prosecutors claim Anderson, who has been jailed for refusing to testify, repeatedly injected Bonds with performance-enhancing drugs.
Dressed in a gray pantsuit and white shirt, and with deep lines under her eyes, Bell answered 72 minutes of prosecution questions and was pressured during 4 hours, 15 minutes of questioning from the defense, who tried to portray her as a gold digger, a scorned former lover, a liar and the instigator of a mortgage fraud scheme.
Defense lawyer Cristina Arguedas brought up an interview Bell gave Playboy and a television appearance on Geraldo Rivera.
“You have taken many opportunities to disparage Barry Bonds … in the most vulgar ways possible?” Arguedas said in a question that was more a statement.
“Did you go on Howard Stern’s radio show?” Arguedas continued. “Does he do anything that isn’t vulgar?”
When Arguedas repeated: “Did you say vulgar things about Barry Bonds?” Bell answered: “Please refresh my memory.”
With that, Arguedas took a break to talk with Allen Ruby, Bonds’ lead lawyer. After a few moments, Arguedas told the court: “We’re going to decline that opportunity to go into the gutter. No more questions.”
At the start of the day, Giants equipment manager Mike Murphy testified that Bonds’ hat size increased from 7 1/4 to 7 3/8 in 2002. Murphy said that while Willie Mays and Willie McCovey needed larger hats, their increases did not happen until after they had retired as players.
Former Giants head athletic trainer Stan Conte is to testify Tuesday along with former AL MVP Jason Giambi, brother Jeremy Giambi and Randy Velarde, other players linked to the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, which ran a steroids distribution ring.
While there were empty seats in the court room last week, the wood benches were filled for Bell’s testimony and about a dozen people waited on line outside for one of the approximately 50 seats available to the public.
Bell testified Bonds revealed his steroids use to her only once, between 1999 and 2000 at her apartment.
“He had an injury on his elbow and it was a big lump on his elbow,” she said. “It looked really awful, and he said it was because of steroids. … somehow it caused the muscle and the tendons to grow faster than the joint itself could handle.”
Bonds had left elbow surgery on April 20, 1999, and was on the disabled list until June 9. He holds the MLB records for home runs in a career (762) and a single season (73).
Under questioning from Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey D. Nedrow, Bell said Bonds told her “he didn’t shoot it up every day like body builders did.”
“That’s how they were getting ahead, that’s how they were achieving, by using steroids,” she quoted Bonds as saying. She went on to say this was the period “when Mark McGwire was breaking records.”
Dressed in a dark blue suit, light blue shirt and blue-and-silver patterned tie, Bonds alternately watched Bell on the stand, scribbled notes and whispered to one of his defense attorneys, Allen Ruby. A few times, Bonds put on reading glasses.
Bell met Bonds briefly outside Candlestick Park on July 3, 1994, when she was introduced by Kathy Hoskins, a former personal shopper for Bonds who also is expected to testify.
“He said: ‘Damn girl, you’re fine,’ ” said Bell, who occasionally dabbed at tears.
She attended a barbecue the next day at Bonds’ mother’s house, and Bonds arrived with Bobby Bonilla. From there, they shared a romantic relationship that continued even after Bonds married Liz Watson, who became his second wife in 1999.
In anticipation of defense attempts to discredit Bell, Nedrow asked about an interview and nude photograph shoot she did with Playboy that appeared in 2007.
“I was trying to put my life together,” she testified. “Maybe it wasn’t the best decision.”
Bell testified that Playboy agreed to pay her $100,000, but sent the money to her agent, David Hans Schmidt. Schmidt committed suicide in 2007 while under investigation for allegedly attempting to extort the actor Tom Cruise and Bell said she saw little of the Playboy payment — “about $17,000 or $18,000.”
While Ruby cross-examined the first four witnesses, Arguedas spent most of Monday trying to portray Bell as a jilted woman who had broken off her previous relationship on the day she was to be married.
When Bonds told her in 1998 that he was going to marry Watson, Bell said the player told her “you can come see me on road trips.” Bell testified that after Bonds married, he told her there were “girlfriend cities and wife cities” and that she wasn’t allowed to travel with him to New York, Montreal and Atlanta.
Bell said she went instead to San Diego, Houston and Miami. She recalled bitterly how Bonds told her to find her own way home from after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, when commercial airlines were shut down and Bonds was on the team charter.
“Barry abandoned me in Houston after 9-11,” she said.
Arguedas ran through a litany of financial benefits Bell received in “this position you had, as the girlfriend for road trips.” Bonds bought her several cars and paid the down payment for her house in North Scottsdale, Ariz. Arguedas repeatedly brought up forms Bell signed in which she said it would be her secondary home, trying to portray Bell as a liar.
Arguedas also quizzed Bell about an email she sent to Bonds’ website in April 2004, almost a year after their breakup on May 23, 2003. Bell said she listed all the women she knew that Bonds was sleeping with: a model in New York, another woman in Las Vegas and “the stripper from Phoenix.”
“This is the guy who you described as having penile dysfunction,” Arguedas said. “That’s a lot of action.”
Bonds covered his mouth in an apparent attempt to suppress a grin.
“I don’t know what he was doing with them,” Bell responded. “I can only imagine.”