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.
Former hit man James Martorano continued his testimony for a second day Tuesday, describing more murders he said he committed at the request of Bulger and his gang. Martorano gave chilling details about murders he committed after they were ordered by Bulger and his partner, Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi. Martorano also described a 1975 killing he said Bulger and Flemmi did themselves. Saying Bulger and Flemmi shot Edward Connors in a phone booth because they were afraid he would tie them to the 1973 killing of a Bulger rival.
Under aggressive cross-examination by Bulger lawyer Hank Brennan, Martorano — who admitted killing 20 people — insisted he was not a hit man or a serial killer. He said he did not get paid for killing people, but instead just did it as part of his work for Bulger’s gang, to help family or friends, or to defend himself. “I always tried to be a nice guy,” he said.
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 glanced over at Martorano as he got back on the witness stand, about 10 feet from where Bulger sits at the defense table.
WHAT’S UP NEXT
Bulger’s lawyers will continue cross-examining Martorano on Wednesday.