After a 16 year manhunt, James “Whitey” Bulger is finally getting his day in court.
Tuesday the jury selection was completed. Forty men and women were questioned by attorneys on both sides, as well as Judge Denise J. Casper.
A total of 18 were selected, eight men and four women will be sitting in the jury box, and three men and three women will be in an alternate position. Judge Casper told the 18 men and women: “Do not make up your mind of what the verdict will be. … Keep an open mind.”
The jurors were then released, and told to report back at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
Bulger is accused of being a notorious mob boss whose crimes ravaged Boston in the 1970’s and 1980’s. His charges include involvement in 19 murders.
Casper has taken under advisement a request by the Bulger defense team to postpone opening statements until Monday. They want her to order the U.S. Attorney’s Office to turn over to them all “raw material” they have regarding a state trooper’s claims that former Bulger henchmen, turned star government witnesses John “The Executioner” Martorano, 72, and Kevin Weeks, 57, have been involved in illegal gambling since their respective releases from prison in 2007 and 2005. They are accusing prosecutors of “turning their heads” and ignoring their illegal activities because they need the testimony of the two former inmates.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Wyshak Jr. called the accusations “totally untrue.”
In 1956 he was first sentenced to federal time in Atlanta Penitentiary for armed robbery and hijacking. He received an offer to lessen his sentence. He volunteered for a CIA program. Bulger and 18 other inmates were given LSD and other drugs. Bulger later claimed that they were told that their purpose was to find a cure for “schizophrenia.”
He was paroled in 1965, after being transferred to three other federal prisons, including Alcatraz.
After his release he worked as a janitor and construction worker. His life of crime continued when he became a loan shark, and bookmaker. His boss was Donald Killeen, head of the ‘Irish Mob.’ When Killeen’s younger brother bit off the nose of a member of the rival Mullen gang, a war ensued. It was during this battle that Bulger killed his first man.
As the fighting continued, Bulger became aware that the younger Mullen gang was winning. He made a deal with the rival gang to kill the man who murdered the Mullen gang leader’s twin brother.
In 1972, Bulger had joined with the Mullen’s. They controlled the bookmaking and loan shark operations in the South Boston area by ‘eliminating’ the competition. He became a part of the “Winter Hill Gang.” He stepped into the leadership role in 1979.
Early in Bulger’s career of crime, he was known as a sort of “Robin Hood” in South Boston. The truth was that he had created a “protection racket” and then went after the drug kingpins and those running illegal gambling. Bulger is accused of 19 murders, but he has confessed to his friends that he “killed more than 40.”
In 1975, he became an informant for the FBI. They ignored his criminal organization in exchange for information on the Patriarca crime family. Beginning in 1997, the New England media exposed criminal actions by federal, state, and local law enforcement officials tied to Bulger. This became a huge embarrassment for the FBI.
On December 23, 1994, after being tipped off by his former FBI handler about a pending indictment under the RICO Act, Bulger fled Boston and went into hiding. For sixteen years, he remained at large. For twelve of those years, Bulger was prominently listed on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.
On June 22, 2011, Bulger was arrested outside an apartment in Santa Monica, California. Arrested with him was his longtime girlfriend Catherine Greig. Bulger was 81 years old. He was subsequently extradited to Massachusetts. Today, with the jury selection completed, the trial of James “Whitey” Bulger will finally begin with ‘opening arguments’ on Wednesday. After a 16 year manhunt, he will have his day in court.
The Guardian Express