BOSTON (AP) — James “Whitey” Bulger is on trial in a 32-count racketeering indictment accusing him of a long list of crimes, including participating in 19 killings. Here’s a look at the case against him, his defense and what’s happening in the courtroom:
The 83-year-old Bulger, the alleged former leader of the Winter Hill Gang, was one of the nation’s most wanted fugitives after he fled Boston in 1994. He was captured in 2011 in Santa Monica, Calif., where he had been living with his longtime girlfriend in a rent-controlled apartment. His early image as a modern-day Robin Hood who gave Thanksgiving dinners to working-class neighbors and kept drug dealers out of his South Boston neighborhood was shattered when authorities started digging up bodies.
Prosecutors on Tuesday called relatives of three people allegedly killed by Bulger and his gang. Margaret King, the widow of Tommy King — a former rival who had joined forces with Bulger — said that after her husband disappeared in 1975, she asked Bulger if he knew what happened to him. Bulger said “he was probably in Canada robbing banks,” King testified.
Bulger’s lawyers insist that Bulger was not an FBI informant, as prosecutors say in presenting testimony about the defendant’s conversations with former agents. Attorney Hank Brennan aggressively cross-examined James Marra, an agent with the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General who introduced Bulger’s FBI informant file to jurors. Marra acknowledged that former FBI agents John Connolly and John Morris both failed to include details in the reports they put in Bulger’s file. “They weren’t reporting their own criminal activity,” Marra added. Connolly was convicted for tipping off Bulger and other gang members to an upcoming indictment, prompting Bulger to flee. Morris, who received immunity, admitted accepting cash from Bulger.
Eleven men and seven women are serving on the jury, including 12 regular jurors and six alternates. The trial is expected to last three to four months.
The defendant stared straight ahead and took notes during the testimony. He also glanced at witnesses who were asked to identify him.
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Morris, the former Boston FBI agent, is expected to testify Wednesday. Morris was John Connolly’s supervisor while prosecutors say Connolly was Bulger’s handler as an FBI informant.