WASHINGTON --- Almost as soon as it began, former baseball star Roger Clemens' perjury trial ended Thursday -- in a mistrial the judge blamed on prosecutors and said a "first-year law student" would have known to avoid.
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton left the question of a new trial in the air. But he called a halt to the trial under way after prosecutors showed jurors evidence that he had ruled out -- videotaped revelations that a teammate had said he'd told his wife Clemens confessed to using a drug.
Walton scolded prosecutors and said he couldn't let the former All-Star pitcher face prison if convicted on such "extremely prejudicial" evidence.
"Mr. Clemens has to get a fair trial," Walton said. "In my view, he can't get it now."
Defense attorney Rusty Hardin, who had asked for the mistrial declaration, patted Clemens on the back as the judge announced his decision. As he left the courthouse, Clemens accepted hugs from a couple of court workers, shook hands with the security guards and autographed baseballs for fans waiting outside.
The quick end on only the second day of testimony was the second mistrial involving a superstar player accused in baseball's steroids scandal. Home run king Barry Bonds was convicted three months ago of obstruction of justice, but a mistrial was called on three more serious false-statements charges after jurors couldn't agree on a verdict.
Walton said he would hold a hearing Sept. 2 to decide whether Clemens should face another trial.