'Whitey' Bulger Found Guilty On 31 Of 32 Counts
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish. After five days of deliberation, jurors in the trial of James "Whitey" Bulger have delivered a verdict: Guilty on 31 of 32 counts. The former Boston mob boss was convicted of racketeering, murder and other gangland crimes. At 83 years old, Bulger will likely spend the rest of his life in prison.
Joining us from Boston to talk about today's verdict is reporter David Boeri of member station WBUR. And, David, Bulger, as we said, was found guilty of racketeering, those murders - there were 11 of them - extortion and money laundering. It's quite a sweeping verdict.
DAVID BOERI, BYLINE: A sweeping verdict, Audie, to be sure. According to the U.S. attorney, it brings to an end a man who has caused more pain than anybody else in the history of law enforcement in Massachusetts. But within the heart of that racketeering case, there were 19 murders. And the fact is that the jurors found that the case had not been proven in seven of those, and they could not go forward with another. So that makes eight that they did not convict on, and that was a crushing blow to the victims' families who were sitting in that courtroom.
CORNISH: Talk more about that, because many of the victims' families have been a regular presence in the courtroom throughout the two-month trial.
BOERI: That's right. And they've come together, and they've bonded with each other. They had known each other. And it's been actually somewhat therapeutic so that the families who felt that they had justice today like Pat Donahue, who said: I cry for myself, but I cry for the others. They were just crushed.
People said that - some of those seven families said they thought it was as if their father had been murdered all over again. And at the heart of this, Audie, I think you have to conclude that the jury was repudiating one of the government's key witnesses, John Martorano, a man who had gotten a fabulous deal. He had killed 20 people, served only 12 years in prison. And according to one of the prosecutors who came out of that room, the jury just didn't like him.
CORNISH: Now, Bulger's attorneys have said that they will likely appeal the convictions. On what basis?
BOERI: They wanted to bring a trial forward, which was a defensive immunity. They wanted to bring a case that said that Bulger had actually gotten preemptive immunity for his crimes, crimes that he had committed, crimes that he would commit in the future. It sounds outlandish. That's the defense they wanted to make. They were denied that defense by the judge in a series of motions, so now, that will go forward as the appeal. And that would have made this a much bigger trial as opposed to the small trial that it was, but it didn't happen.
CORNISH: Now, the issue of Bulger's relationship with the FBI was a major back story in this trial. Talk more about it. How was it covered here?
BOERI: This was the problem for the prosecution because this is a huge problem. And yet, going forward, they opposed the idea of an immunity defense. They tried to soften their witnesses, somewhat, and they tried to limit the damage to the institutions. They didn't go after the FBI corruption so clearly and completely because they were concerned about the effect it would have on the jurors. But ironically, what happened was that the jurors saw that they were protecting their witnesses, and in fact, they didn't get into that full defense that was asked for here.
CORNISH: We should say and that's because Bulger was an FBI informant and that the whole idea of quote, unquote, "being a rat" came up quite a bit.
BOERI: That's right. And he wanted to disprove that he was a rat, even though being a rat or being an FBI informant is not a charge. He wanted to attack that, which he did, and he also denied that he ever killed women. Well, he was convicted of killing one woman, but the other one the jury found was not - they did not have sufficient evidence to convict.
CORNISH: That's David Boeri of member station WBUR in Boston. David, thank you.
BOERI: You're welcome, Audie.