A guide to the trial of James ‘Whitey’ Bulger
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 as the trial enters its fourth week:
The 83-year-old Bulger, who prosecutors say was the 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.
Excerpts from Bulger’s FBI informant file presented to the jury Monday show he had secretly provided information on a variety of criminals, from members of the Italian Mafia to people in his own South Boston neighborhood. On Tuesday, the widow of a man who prosecutors say was killed by Bulger testified that after her husband disappeared in 1975, Bulger told her that he “was probably in Canada robbing banks.”
Bulger’s lawyers continued to challenge a claim by prosecutors that Bulger was a top-echelon FBI informant. The defense contended that former FBI Agent John Connolly fabricated Bulger’s FBI file in an attempt to cover up his own corrupt behavior.
Eleven men and seven women make up the panel of 12 regular jurors and six alternates. The trial, which began in June, was initially expected to last three to four months, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Kelly told the judge that it’s moving faster than anticipated. Prosecutors could wrap up their case by the end of July, followed by the defense case, he said.
The defendant swore in court Thursday as former FBI agent John Morris described his role as an informant who ratted on criminals. The judge said she did not hear the remark but told Bulger his lawyers are to speak for him. He said he understood.
WHAT’S UP NEXT
Morris is expected to remain on the stand Monday as Bulger attorney Hank Brennan continues his cross-examination.