Lawyers for James "Whitey" Bulger said in closing statements today that prosecutors relied on a string of admitted murderers, bookies and dirty FBI agents in what was an "unholy alliance" to convicted Bulger of crimes that include 19 murders.
The defense for a man his lawyers admitted made millions from crime was more about corruption in the FBI than it was about his innocence.
Law enforcement officials from across the state came to the South Boston federal courtroom to hear closing arguments against the man who inspired the move "The Departed." Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis was in court as was former Middlesex County District Attorney Gerry Leone, who was a federal prosecutor when Bulger was allegedly leaving Boston's streets splattered with blood.
"People get shot, people get killed. Families suffer. It goes on and on and on," defense attorney Hank Brennan said of FBI informants who he alleged continue to commit crimes. "If you're on their team it's a wink. It's a nod. And you're on the same team. If you're not, watch out."
Brennan also denied yet again accusations that Bulger, 83, was ever an informant for the FBI, despite agency records that list his informant number was BS 1544-OC [organized crime] and was later upgraded to BS 1544-TE [top echelon].
"When you look at that file and read there is no information that led to convictions, not information that took down the Mafia,'' Brennan told the jury. The government, Brennan added, based its entire case against Bulger on an "unholy alliance with known criminals."
Brennan and his colleague J.W. Carney listed those witnesses against Bulger as John Martorano, who confessed to killing 20 people but served just 12 years; Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi, who was convicted of killing 10 people but has since confessed to 10 more slayings; Kevin Weeks who served five years for seven murders.
"They walked in the front door of this courthouse rather than being locked up like they should be,'' Carney told the jury. "The government paid for the testimony. They buy it and the witnesses sell it."
The defense cited two FBI agents who were Bulger's handlers, John Connolly, who is serving a 30-year prison sentence for his role in Bulger's crimes, and Connolly's supervisor John Morris. Morris cried on the stand and apologized for his role in the murder of two men.
"This is the same John Morris who drank so much he got the nickname Vino. The same John Morris who lied to his bosses, he lied to his colleagues, he lied to his wife. He is a habitual liar. John Morris is a criminal,'' Brennan told the jury.
"He was as, or more, corrupt than John Connolly. So he gets immunity, and you know what? He gets a pension that we are paying for because he's with them. He was a solider for the FBI,'' Brennan told the jury.
Earlier prosecutors summed up their case by asking jurors to answer several simple questions.
"Follow the evidence…It's like putting a puzzle together. Who shot who? Why did it happen? Who extorted who? Who shook down who?" federal prosecutor Fred Wyshak told the jury were the important questions to remember.
Wyshak insisted that the answer to those questions was Bulger and his criminal pals in the Winter Hill Gang.
"This is not some Robin Hood story about some man who keeps angel dust and heroin out of South Boston,'' Wyshak told the jury. "It demonstrates the cold calculated approach that men like… Jim Bulger have toward their fellow men."
One by one, Wyshak reminded the jury of the 19 "indiscriminate murders" Bulger is charged with committing. Wyshak described the hits in phone booths; killings on street corners; murders in South Boston basements – all taking place over the past four decades when Bulger allegedly had a stranglehold on the criminal rackets.
One corpse was left in a trunk. Others were buried in a scrubby beach at the edge of Boston Harbor. Two women were strangled, prosecutors argued.
"That's the level of humanity that the defendant in this case has,'' Wyshak told the jury.
"You don't have to decide who strangled Debbie Davis,'' Wyshak told jurors. "What you need to decided is whether Mr. Bulger is criminally culpable in that murder."
Deborah Hussey, the stepdaughter of his partner in crime, Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi, was the second woman Bulger is accused of killing.
"You do know that Mr. Bulger strangled Deborah Hussey to death,'' Wyshak told the jury.
Wyshak completed his closing arguments describing the World Jai Lai murders that left a millionaire businessman, Roger Wheeler, dead. Confessed hitman John Martorano testified that he laid in wait at a Florida golf course for Wheeler, armed with a "murder kit" sent to Florida by Bulger and his crew.
"These are the type of men they are. They had a little murder kit with burglar tools and weapons and disguises," Wyshak told the jury.
Another Jai Lai victim was the company's one-time president, John Callahan, who "liked to hang around gangsters at night and it got him killed,'' Wyshak told the jury. Callahan was shot dead by Martorano, who told the court Bulger ordered the hit.
Two others were allegedly killed after Bulger learned from his corrupt FBI handlers that a gang member, Brian Halloran, had agreed to cooperate with the FBI with details on the Wheeler hit.
"Mr. Bulger kills Brian Halloran and prevents him from becoming a witness," Wyshak told the jury. Another man, Michael Donahue, an innocent father of three who was driving Halloran home, also died that day.
"Those murders occurred right down the street from here,'' Wyshak told the jury.
After those slayings, Bulger met up with Flemmi to brag
"These are like two kids talking about a baseball game,'' Wyshak remarked. "Bulger continues to regale Flemmi" with the story of the murders.
Bulger's trial began on June 6, a year after he was captured at a Santa Monica apartment two blocks from the beach where he and his longtime companion Catherine Greig hid as fugitives using the names Charlie and Carol Gasko.
Wyshak admitted many of the prosecution's witnesses were hard to swallow.
"Nobody likes these men. These men, these co-conspirators, are the most reprehensible people to walk the streets of Boston,'' Wyshak told jurors, but he added that Bulger considered those witnesses his closest friends.
"He's the same as they are," the prosecutor said.
On Friday Bulger refused to take the stand in his own defense, only after delivering a short tirade to federal judge Denise Casper during which he called his trial "a sham."
"Do what yous [cq] want with me,'' Bulger told court, his face flushed red.