(BOSTON) — More than 600 people will be questioned this week as jury selection begins in the murder trial of accused Boston mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger, who spent much of his 16 years on the run on the FBI’s “10 Most Wanted” list.
Bulger’s name is one of the most well-known in Boston, so there is some concern that it will be difficult to seat an unbiased jury.
Bulger, 83, was arrested two years ago for his alleged role in 19 slayings in the 1970s and 1980s.
Prosecutors say he ran Boston’s infamous Winter Hill Gang for nearly 30 years, which inspired many books and Jack Nicholson’s character in the 2006 Oscar-winning film, The Departed.
Authorities say Bulger committed crimes, including murder, while he was an FBI informant. Bulger was to be indicted in 1994 but fled Boston after being tipped off by his former FBI handler John Connolly.
Connolly was convicted of racketeering and obstruction of justice and served 10 years in prison. He is serving a 40-year prison sentence for his connection to a murder.
Bulger successfully evaded authorities for nearly 16 years and appeared on the FBI’s “10 Most Wanted” list. Finally, the FBI decided to change the focus of its search to his longtime girlfriend, Catherine Greig. After releasing an ad, investigators followed a tip that led to the couple’s small, rent-controlled Santa Monica, Calif., apartment in 2011.
Greig was sentenced last year to eight years in prison for identity theft and conspiring to harbor a fugitive.
Bulger will come face to face with not only the families of victims prosecutors say he helped kill but his former mob associates, including former hit men who have admitted to taking part in dozens of killings.
The defense plans to call close to 80 witnesses to testify, including Bulger himself.
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