(BOSTON) — Federal prosecutors spent Monday morning trying to convince a jury that the summer-long trial of James “Whitey” Bulger came down to these simple questions:
“Follow the evidence…it’s like putting a puzzle together. Who shot who? Why did it happen? Who extorted who? Who shook down who?” federal prosecutor Fred Wyshak told the jury were the important questions to remember.
And, in the government’s closing arguments, Wyshak insisted that the answer to those questions was Bulger and his criminal cohorts in the Winter Hill Gang.
“This is not some Robin Hood story about some man who keeps angel dust and heroin out of South Boston,” Wyshak told the jury. “It demonstrates the cold calculated approach that men like…Jim Bulger have toward their fellow men.”
Law enforcement officials from across the state came to the South Boston federal courtroom to hear closing arguments against the man who inspired the movie The Departed. Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis was in court as was former Middlesex County District Attorney Gerry Leone, who was a federal prosecutor when Bulger was allegedly leaving Boston’s streets splattered with blood.
One by one, Wyshak reminded the jury of the 19 “indiscriminate murders” Bulger is charged with committing. Wyshak described the hits in phone booths; killings on street corners; murders in South Boston basements — all taking place over the past four decades when Bulger allegedly had a stranglehold on the criminal rackets, his power bolstered by crooked FBI agents who turned him into an informant.
One corpse was left in a trunk. Others were buried in a scrubby beach at the edge of Boston Harbor. Two women were strangled, prosecutors argued.
“That’s the level of humanity that the defendant in this case has,” Wyshak told the jury.
“You don’t have to decide who strangled Debbie Davis,” Wyshak told jurors. “What you need to decided is whether Mr. Bulger is criminally culpable in that murder.”
Deborah Hussey, the stepdaughter of his partner in crime, Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, was the second woman Bulger is accused of killing.
“You do know that Mr. Bulger strangled Deborah Hussey to death,” Wyshak told the jury.
Wyshak completed his closing arguments describing the World Jai Lai murders that left a millionaire businessman, Roger Wheeler, dead. Confessed hitman John Martorano testified that he laid in wait at a Florida golf course for Wheeler, armed with a “murder kit” sent to the Sunshine State by Bulger and his crew.
“These are the type of men they are. They had a little murder kit with burglar tools and weapons and disguises,” Wyshak told the jury. Another Jai Lai victim was the company’s one-time president, John Callahan, who “liked to hang around gangsters at night and it got him killed,” Wyshak told the jury. Callahan was shot dead by Martorano, who told the court Bulger ordered the hit.
Two others were allegedly killed after Bulger learned from his corrupt FBI handlers that a gang member, Brian Halloran, had agreed to cooperate with the FBI with details on the Wheeler hit.
“Mr. Bulger kills Brian Halloran and prevents him from becoming a witness,” Wyshak told the jury. Another man, Michael Donahue, an innocent father of three who was driving Halloran home, also died that day.”
“Those murders occurred right down the street from here,” Wyshak told the jury.
After those slayings, Bulger met up with Flemmi to brag.
“These are like two kids talking about a baseball game,” Wyshak remarked. “Bulger continues to regale Flemmi” with the story of the murders.
Bulger’s trial began on June 6, a year after he was captured at a Santa Monica apartment two blocks from the beach where he and his longtime companion Catherine Greig hid as fugitives using the names Charlie and Carol Gasko.
“We are here 20 years later because this man ran,” Wyshak told the jury.
Jurors heard from 63 government witnesses, among them three convicted killers and an accused murderer. Those killers, according to testimony and court documents, have been charged with killing 46 people. Martorano confessed to 20 murders and served 12 years in prison. Flemmi has been convicted of 10 murders and has since confessed to another 10. Kevin Weeks, Bulger’s “surrogate son” as one witness described him on the stand, killed five people and served five years.
Wyshak admitted those witnesses were hard to swallow.
“Nobody likes these men. These men, these co-conspirators, are the most reprehensible people to walk the streets of Boston,” Wyshak told jurors, but he added that Bulger considered those witnesses his closest friends. “He’s the same as they are,” the prosecutor said.
The government’s closing arguments did not have many references to the staggering FBI corruption that existed in the top levels of the Boston field office. But defense attorneys are expected to address that in its closing arguments.
On Friday Bulger refused to take the stand in his own defense, only after delivering a short tirade to federal judge Denise Casper during which he called his trial “a sham.”
“Do what yous [cq] want with me,” Bulger told court, his face flushed red.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
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