Posted by Jonathan Hall Posted 08/12/13, 6:31pm
It's over -- a jury of eight men and four women has found James J. Bulger guilty of 31 counts of racketeering, extortion, money laundering, and weapons charges.
The jury found Bulger responsible of 11 of 19 murders contained within the 33 acts of racketeering acts alleged.
The jury apparently didn't buy the testimony of hitman John Martorano. He testified about several murders in 1973, and the jury found those alleged racketeering acts "not proven." In addition the jury simply could not decide whether Bulger was involved in the 1981 murder of Debbie Davis. But they found Bulger did gun down Michael Donahue and Brian Halloran. And they found he was involved in plots to kill businessman Roger Wheeler in Oklahoma, and former world jai alai executive John Callahan in Florida.
This panel was conscientious and worked hard -- they had the case for about 32 hours over five days, the trial lasting about two months. Court sessions were held for 35 days of testimony, plus one day for closing arguments, plus five days of deliberations.
Bulger flashed a "thumbs up" sign to his brother Jackie and two nieces after the judge and jury left the courtroom left. One of Eddie Connors' daughters at that point said "rat-ah-tat-tat whitey" -- referring to his audio tape at the jail, in which he mimicked a machine gun sound while recounting the death of bar owner Eddie Connors in 1975.
The judge set a Sentencing hearing for Nov. 13 through the 15.
Victims will get to speak, and these are people who feel they've been wronged by not only Whitey, but the FBI and the federal government.
It was an unforgettable trial, with some unforgettable moments. Bulger called it a sham because he couldn't present his immunity defense, but in the end the US Attorney says justice was done.
Posted by Jonathan Hall Posted 08/08/13, 6:05pm
Still no verdict after 3 days, and more than 20 hours of deliberations in the Bulger trial.
The 12 member panel considering James "Whitey" Bulger's fate sent the judge a note this afternoon, just before 2 p.m., asking to see a piece of evidence: a German made MP40 9mm machine gun.
The very last count in the indictment deals with possession of weapons with obliterated serial numbers, and this is one of two guns in that category.
The jury got to see the weapon - not a picture, but the weapon itself, in the jury room. It was unloaded of course... needless to say!
Bulger - who will be 84 in less than a month - faces a life sentence if convicted of some or all the charges.
Count 2, racketeering, includes 33 allegations - among them, 19 murders. In nine of them, he allegedly did the deed himself. In others, he allegedly helped John Martorano commit the crimes.
The judge told the jury at the beginning of the day today that while they only need proof of two violations to convict - they should conscientiously consider all 33.
The families like that. But they realize their case could be left blank if there is not unanimous agreement.
The courthouse has been packed with families - of murder victims Michael Donahue, Debbie Davis, Eddie Connors, Michael Milano, Bucky Barrett and Buddy Leonard. They thought a verdict might be coming today because of the question about the very last charge in the indictment.
Some say their nerves are shot. Tom Donahue said he tries not to get too caught up in the "ups and downs." It's not easy.
Waiting for a jury leads to long hours, with lawyers, and families, and media members chatting up a storm. That led to a bizarre moment in courtroom 11. Attorney Jay Carney told us he likes to have his toe nails painted, like women do, after a pedicure. He said his toenails are now "eggplant purple." And he removed a shoe and sock to provide proof.
All in a day's work at the Bulger trial.
Deliberations continue at 9 a.m. tomorrow.
Posted by Jonathan Hall Posted 08/07/13, 6:01pm
We are now through almost two full days of deliberations, and still no verdict. A jury of eight men and four women have had the case for a total of 13 hours. We have discovered the jury foreman is a balding man with a mustache, a man who initially expressed concerns about serving because he's a stay at home Dad who cares for kids, and was transitioning into a new job at some point. He's now the leader of the jury charged with deciding Bulger's fate.
This day was full of behind-the-scenes drama.
For two and a half hours a packed courtroom endured a series of four secret sidebars. Was there some sort of problem with a juror? With the case? Could there be a mistrial? We never found out. But clearly there was not a mistrial, because deliberations went on.
During breaks between sidebars, the lawyers huddled. The defense team blew up their cell phones making calls from the hallway outside the fifth floor courtroom.
US Attorney Carmen Ortiz came to the courtroom -- something she only does rarely -- and that added to the drama. She conferred with her trio of prosecutors.
The judge and lawyers seemed to agree on something and a yellow sheet of paper was passed from the judge to the clerk, who carried the paper out. With the problem solved -- at least for now -- Prosecutor Brian Kelly left telling the gallery -- now we wait.
The 12-member jury -- full of questions today, at least five, maybe six. They wanted to know if any of the charges had a statute of limitations, rendering them null and void. The answer -- no. They wondered about the definition of aiding and abetting in a crime, and the concept of joint venture.
Basically, you can be guilty of murder, for instance, if your partner kills a clerk during a robbery.
Defense attorney Jay Carney said jury questions are tough to read into. They're kind of like tea leaves, and he doesn't have much success getting anything from either one.
Late in the afternoon the jury asked a question about count two -- racketeering.
There are 33 allegations of racketeering. Jurors wanted to know if they had to unanimously agree about whether an allegation was proven.
The judge told jurors yes, they must be unanimous -- but only two acts need to be proven to convict. If they have trouble on an allegation, they can leave it blank.
Included in those 33 acts of racketeering: 19 alleged murders, including the killing of Michael Donahue.
His widow, Pat Donahue, was asked if she'd be disappointed if the jury left the Donahue count blank. She answered honestly: Yes, she would be very disappointed. She wants Bulger convicted of all counts.
Posted by Jonathan Hall Posted 08/05/13, 4:24pm
Assistant US Atorney Wyshack told the jury to use their common sense, and not to get distracted. He spoke more than three and a half hours.
He admitted no one likes witnesses john martorani, Stephen flemmi, and kevin weeks, nor the sweetheart deals they got.
As for Bulger's disputed relationship with disgraced fbi agent John Connolly,
Wyshack added: "Mr. Bulger cares more about his reputation as an FBI informant than he does about his reputation as a murderous thug."
The defense used two and a half hours for its closing statement, Jay Carney and Hank Brennan both spoke. Brennan went first, putting the government on trial.
In his closing Carney told the Bulger jury the prosecutions witnesses were bought and paid for -- suggesting the men can't be trusted.
Striking a Tea Party-like theme, Carney urged the jury to send a message to America, by finding reasonable doubt in this case as a way to fight government abuse and corruption.
Carney said, "I ask you to find strength in the oath that you took. When you did - you became our country... You will embody our constitutional protections."
Though the victims' families agree government corruption is a major issue in this trial, they don't want to see that let Bulger go free.
Tom Donahue told me "not a chance in hell."
Wyshack -- in his 15 minute rebuttal -- said "let's get back to reality here" - he said the defense is asking the jury to violate its oath, ignore the evidence, and find Bulger not guilty to send a message to the "big bad government." He also accused Carney of a slanderous, disingenuous attempt to twist facts.