Jury told Whitey Bulger is a ‘hands-on killer’

Whitey Bulger
Whitey Bulger
Credit: Hand out

Two years ago, a tan and fit-looking James “Whitey” Bulger was living in Santa Monica with his girlfriend.

On Wednesday the 83-year-old sat in a federal courtroom in the Boston neighborhood he once allegedly ruled and listened as a prosecutor called him a “hands-on killer” who led an organized gang of criminals that caused fear and ran amok in the city.

A federal prosecutor and Bulger’s attorney delivered their opening statements to the jury Wednesday, opening what will be a months-long trial that will consist of testimony from various confessed killers and mob members, corrupt law enforcement agents and possibly Bulger himself.

Assistant  U.S. Attorney Brian Kelly characterized Bulger as the leader of a violent gang that wasn’t afraid to participate in crimes.

“He was no ordinary leader. He did the dirty work himself. He was a hands-on killer,” Kelly said.

During his nearly hour-long opening statement, Kelly also talked about Bulger’s other alleged crimes and used a chart to break down the dozens of crimes Bulger is accused of to help the jury understand.

Kelly also recounted some of the crimes including one in which Bulger allegedly tried to strangle John McIntyre, a fisherman who tried to smuggle guns from Boston to the IRA in Ireland for Bulger and others. Bulger, afraid that McIntyre would talk to police after his arrest, allegedly used a rope that was too thick, so it didn’t kill McIntyre.

“All it did was make him gag. And as he was gagging, Bugler asked him ‘You want one in the head’ and McIntyre says ‘Yes please.’ At that point Bugler shoots him in the head,” Kelly said of the 1984 murder.

Bulger killing McIntyre because he believed he was talking with authorities was one example of a “grotesque irony,” Kelly said, because Bulger “was one of the biggest informants in Boston.”

Bulger was arrested in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2011 after 16 years on the run. Bulger fled after corrupt FBI agent John Connolly tipped him off just before his indictment for various crimes including racketeering, extortion and 19 murders.

Bulger’s lawyer, J. W. Carney Jr., didn’t mention the alleged murders in his opening statements.

Instead, he tried early to cast doubt in the jury’s mind, spending much of his opening statement on the prosecution’s key witnesses, former mob members and confessed killers John Martorano, Stephen Flemmi and Kevin Weeks.

Carney pointed out the deals that the men received in exchange for testifying against Bulger and Connolly.

“The federal government was so desperate to have John Martorano testify in a manner that they wanted against John Connolly and James Bulger that they basically put their hands up in the air and said take anything you want,” Carney said. “Given these three individuals, their backgrounds, their character, if that was all you knew would you believe them beyond a reasonable doubt,” Carney asked the jurors.

Carney admitted to the jury that Bulger was “involved in criminal activities in Boston” including bookmaking, loansharking and drug dealing. But, he said, Bulger paid the corrupt law enforcement agents in order to protect his business. He was “never, ever” an informant, Carney said.

Being an informant is something Carney has denied on Bulger’s behalf since the early stages of the trial. Yesterday, Carney explained to the jury that Bulger could not be an informant because of his Irish heritage – it was the worst thing he could do, Carney said – and because he was not closely tied to the Italian mafia, which is what he said the FBI wanted information on.

Carney also suggested that rather than being tipped off by Connolly before his indictment, Bulger was driving back from a vacation when he heard on the radio that federal authorities were rounding up alleged mob members and so Bulger turned around.

But instead of being a fugitive for 16 years, Carney said Bulger “settled in California” where he lived in plain sight while the FBI agented “pretended to look for him.”

After opening statements, the government called its first witness to testify.

Robert Long is a retired Massachusetts State Police investigator.

Long discussed setting up surveillance in an apartment across the street for a downtown Boston auto shop where Bulger, Flemmi and others met with members of the Italian mafia. Long discussed black and white surveillance photographs and videos he and others took of Bulger at the meetings.

After the proceedings, Steve Davis, whose sister Debra was killed in 1981, said he was unimpressed with Carney’s opening statement.

“Carney tells fairytales and stories,” said Davis.

When asked if he was optimistic after the first day, Davis said “It’s going to be a tough fight, but we’ll get there.”

The trial resumes Thursday at 9 a.m.

For updates visit www.metro.us for our live blog from inside the federal courthouse and follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Mayor announces public housing improvements

Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at the Lincoln Houses in East Harlem on Wednesday, calling for the scaffolding to come down at NYCHA complexes across…

National

Peter Theo Curtis: American released by Syrian militants…

An American writer freed this week from two years in the captivity of insurgents in Syria spoke briefly outside his family's Cambridge home Wednesday of…

Local

Bratton defends 'broken windows' work as NYPD support…

Sixty percent of those polled said they support the "broken windows" theory approach popularized by Commissioner Bratton since his first term in the 1990s.

Local

Transit changes for Labor Day weekend

The MTA is adding additional service Friday for New Yorkers getting out of the city for the long weekend. On Friday, Aug. 29, 27 additional…

Television

'Full House' might be relaunched with some of…

A new "Full House" might be in the works.

Movies

Review: 'The Congress' is a crazy, unwieldy sci-fi…

Robin Wright is the center of gravity in "The Congress," which turns from a live-action Hollywood satire into an animated spectacular on a downer future.

Movies

Review: 'The Last of Robin Hood' is a…

Dakota Fanning plays Errol Flynn's (Kevin Kline) teenage gal pal in "The Last of Robin Hood," which takes a scandal and makes it dully empathetic.

Movies

Review: The uneven 'Life of Crime' mostly gets…

Elmore Leonard's "The Switch" becomes the new indie crime dramedy "Life of Crime," with Jennifer Aniston as a kidnapped woman whose husband won't pay up.

College

When are 2014 college football playoffs? (Schedule, date,…

When and where are 2014 college football playoffs? A look at the schedule, date, TV, time for the semi-finals at championship game.

NFL

Dimitri Patterson suspended only for rest of preseason…

Dimitri Patterson ended up getting just a slap on the wrist.

Sports

Eugenie Bouchard excited for 'rowdy' fans at US…

Eugenie Bouchard is sure to endear herself to New York's tennis faithful as she tries to win her first grand slam title across the next two weeks.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at…

MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at top, Nationals climb

Home

Labor Day essentials

Whether you’re soaking up the sun on the beach or barbecuing in the park here are some must-haves for your end-of-summer bash.

Education

Does the school day start too early?

As thousands of high schoolers get ready to head back to class, health experts say it may be time to push back the start of…

Style

Fall 2014 trend: lilac

Push those gray and black sweaters aside and make room for blush and lilac.

Career

Stop eating lunch at your desk

What are you doing for lunch today? If you are like most workers, you'll be eating at your desk - which isn't much of a…