(Updated) John Martorano: Whitey Bulger convinced me to kill my friend

A vehicle with bullet holes and broken glass which was shown to jurors hearing the racketeering and murder trial of accused Boston mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger is seen in this undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Attorney's Office June 17, 2013. John Martorano, a former associate of Bulger took the stand in the trial and told jurors about killing rivals in drive-by shootings as his friend rose to power in Boston organized crime circles.   Credit: Reuters
John Martorano, a former associate of James “Whitey” Bulger, took the stand in his trial Tuesday and told jurors about killing rivals in drive-by shootings as his friend rose to power in Boston organized crime circles.
Credit: Reuters

As of 1982, by his own count, John Martorano had killed 19 people. 

There was one more person to die before Martorano stopped, and it was a friend who James “Whitey” Bulger said had to die.

“I didn’t want to do that, but I finally agreed to do it,” Martorano said. “We were up to our necks in murders already. This is what they wanted. They convinced me.”

Martorano, the 72-year-old former member of the Winter Hill Gang who has confessed to the killings, recounted that story Tuesday while testifying for a second day in Bulger’s trial.

The murder involved John Callahan, Martorano’s friend and the former president of World Jai Alai in Florida. Martorano had assassinated a man for Callahan and Bulger had gotten information from his corrupt FBI handler John Connolly that federal agents were trying to make Callahan turn on his friends and confess.

“It was two against one and it was the three of us so I finally agreed,” Martorano said of being outvoted by Bulger and fellow mobster Stephen Flemmi.

The killing ordered by Bulger was just one of many other murders Martorano discussed. He also recounted the murder of Edward Connors who Martorano said was gunned down in a Morrissey Boulevard phone booth by Bulger and Flemmi. It was the first time the jury heard a witness explain that Bulger himself pulled the trigger.

But Bulger’s lawyer, Henry Brennan, tried to blunt those claims and the multiple murders recounted by Martorano.

“Everybody else planned this,” Martorano said. “It isn’t like Whitey and Stevie didn’t get a part of it.”

“Who pulled the trigger,” Brennan asked.

“I pulled the trigger,” Martorano said.

Also during cross-examination, Brennan brought up the killing of Callahan, but Martorano was again quick to blame others.

“Mr. Bulger insisted on it and that’s why we did it. There were two people who wanted him dead and I didn’t,” Martorano said.

It was the second sob story that Martorano, whose victims invovle multiple innocent people including a young woman and teenage boy, told the court in as many days. He told jurors Monday of another heartache he suffered when he was told Bulger and Flemmi were informants.

The former mobster also said during cross-examination that he didn’t consider himself a serial killer and only killed to protect or help friends and family.

“I always tried to be a nice guy. If somebody was in trouble, I’d try to help them – financially, whatever,” Martorano said.

Brennan also brought up Martorano’s plea deal and tried to paint the former mobster as racing to cut a deal with the feds. He questioned Martorano about his going to the feds once he learned Flemmi and Bulger were informants. Despite confessing to 20 murders, Martorano served 12 years in jail under his deal.

The 83-year-old Bulger was arrested in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2011 after 16 years on the run. Bulger fled after Connolly tipped him off just before his indictment for various crimes including racketeering, extortion and 19 murders.

Martorano will be on the stand again Wednesday when his cross-examination will continue.

For updates on the Bulger trial follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike and check Metro.us for our daily live blog with updates from the courthouse.


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