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THE BULGER TRIAL
Tue August 6, 2013
Jurors To Begin Deliberating Fate Of 'Whitey' Bulger
Judge Denise Casper’s initial instruction to the jury in the trial of James “Whitey” Bulger following closing arguments from both sides was simple:
“Keep an open mind,” she said.
What the jurors at the Moakley Courthouse in South Boston had heard over six hours on Monday were defense attorneys imploring them to consider the collusive role of government officials and agents in abetting the crimes of mobsters and the reliance on professional killers and racketeers in bringing down Bulger.
But, prosecutors argued that the federal government was not on trial. On trial, they reminded jurors, is a mobster; a former fugitive who was living large in Santa Monica for 16 years.
Assistant U.S. attorney Fred Wyshak asked them to consider the evidence not the role of government or quibbles among competing lawyers, which at times during the closing arguments seemed personal.
Wyshak accused the defense team of misrepresenting the evidence.
Wyshak also pointed to victims’ families siting in the court room and said about the Bulger defense team that they “want to feign sympathy for them while defending this man… don't buy it."
Earlier, over a three hour period, Wyshak delivered a detailed explanation of all 19 murders attributed to Bulger
When defense attorney Hank Brennan took over he looked into the eyes of jurors as he recapitulated what he said was a history of “systemic” government corruption and collusion with mobsters-playing groups of organized criminals against the other
Outside court I asked to explain why. He responded diplomatically:
“To make change in the future, we have to learn from our mistakes in the past, and we have to recognize our shortcomings.”
Brennan and Carney gave a two part closing argument, with Brennan focused on the large picture government role and Carney working to further discredit the three main government witnesses: Kevin Weeks, John Martorano and Stephen Flemmi.
None could be trusted to tell the truth, said Carney. And he went so far as to state that it was Flemmi who had the motive to kill his stepdaughter, whom he sexually abused.
Carney concluded that the government paid Weeks, Flemmi, and Martorano for their testimony a price that is obscene".
In his rebuttal, Wyshak described Carney’s comment as “lowlife”.
Outside the Moakley Courthouse, Carney shot back:
“Didn’t lay a glove on me. The manner in which the federal government has comported itself in the history of this case is a fact that should be taken into account regarding whether the jury can find this evidence believable beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Throughout the trial, some of the families of victims who had lost civil suits against the government were put into the ironic position of cheering for defense lawyers –who probed deeply into that relationship.
Tommy Donahue, whose father was allegedly gunned down by Bulger in 1982, commented on what some viewed as a profound paradox:
“We’ve been riding a double-edged sword,” he said. “A lot of information came out on the defense’s part, not the prosecution’s part. So, you know, we were looking more for information. Anything that can help my family, and help resolve pretty much the torture that my family’s gone through over the last 30 years. When Carney was doing his closing arguments, I thought he did a great job in steaming it to the government. A lot of people say the government wasn’t on trial here. Yes they were.
But, for Donahue and his family there was no ambiguity about what they believe will be the outcome of nine weeks of arguments.
“Wyshak was very thorough on the charges that are brought upon Whitey. And, obviously he’s gonna get found guilty. He’s gonna get 5,000 years. He’s already fossil.
The outcome is now in the hands of a mixed race, cross-generational and gender balanced jury. These men and women are tasked with deciding the fate of Bulger based on both the physical evidence and on the testimony of government witnesses, who themselves are admitted thieves, extortionists, drug traffickers, and killers.
Read more about the Bulger trial here.