What would Whitey have said if he took the stand during his trial?
The next chapter in the saga of Boston’s infamous maniacal, manipulative mobster, James J. “Whitey” Bulger, is underway in federal appeals court, where defense and prosecution kicked the question of whether or not the 85-year-old Southie outlaw received a fair trial after he was given two life sentences for 11 murders among other convictions in 2013.
Bulger called his trial “a sham” because he was not able to take the stand to address whether or not he was granted immunity from the late federal prosecutor Jeremiah O’Sullivan, who is rumored to have turned a blind eye to Bulger in order to take down La Cosa Nostra in the North End.
As the tangled tale of corruption and cooperation between the mobster and federal agents came to light, the pressing question throughout Bulger’s campaign as a seemingly untouchable outlaw throughout a reign of terror beginning in the 1970’s, his disappearance in 1992 and his eventual capture in 2011 has remained firm in the minds of Bostonians and crime enthusiasts worldwide: Who’s the bigger rat bastard here?
Bulger’s defense team said that they had tried to get him on the stand to testify about his relationship with law enforcement, but were stonewalled each time.
“We have a client who was willing to take the stand, willing to implicate himself, and for some reason the government didn’t want him to,” Defense Attorney Hank Brennan said. “We had 5,000 documents we wanted the public to see so that people could see what the government had been up to for the last 40 years and the government suffocated those documents.”
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Brennan said that Bulger wasn’t allowed to testify because the cross examination would had gone on for days, something he said was apparent in the court transcripts.
“We constantly asked to have him testify about his relationship with law enforcement, and were denied at every turn,” Brennan said. “The question is why? What does the federal government have to hide? We have this ability to cross examine and if the person isn’t credible, the jury and the public will know that.”
The Prosecutors say that Bulger had the chance to testify, but decided to sit it out and now is claiming victimhood of legal error.
“There was a lot of corruption exposed in this trial, but he got a fair trial,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Kelley said. “He was given every opportunity to speak and he didn’t.”
Steven Davis, whose sister, Debra Davis, allegedly died at Bulger’s hands, said that the victim’s families were the ones who did not get a fair trial, despite his life sentence.
“I felt throughout the trial, he had a verbal immunity agreement with some of the FBI agents,” Davis said. “Everytime they did something, I’m talking back to the race track fixes when everyone went away accept him and Steve Flemmi, they were covering it up from then. When murder came into the picture, they (O’Sullivan and Agent John Connolly) were in so deep with these two criminals that they had to change things and fix things in order to cover their own criminal activities.”
Debra Davis’ death was ruled a no-finding in the original trial, and though the experience would be painful for Steven to go through, he said he would do it in order to see his sister’s death answered.
As for hearing what Bulger has to say for himself, Davis said he has only one wish:
“The only thing I want to hear from him or anything to do with him is the closing of his casket. That’s it.”
Decisions on whether or not this appeal will move forward are on the horizon, and much more will come of this story as it unfolds.