Judge refuses to suspend Whitey Bulger trial; forensic anthropolgist testifies about more graves
A forensic anthropologist told a federal jury Thursday that investigators recovered the remains of Debra Davis and Tommy King, two of James “Whitey” Bulger’s alleged victims, from the edges of the Neponset River in Quincy in 2000.
They were among the six bodies investigators recovered that year after Bulger’s protege Kevin Weeks began cooperating with authorities.
Bulger, now 83, is on trial in US District Court in Boston, charged in a sweeping federal racketeering indictment accusing him of 19 murders.
Bulger and Tommy King were rivals, and Bulger had tried to frame King for the killing of Francis “Buddy” Leonard. King went missing in November, 1975.
Debra Davis, who was 26, was a longtime girlfriend of Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, Bulger’s partner. She went missing in 1981.
Weeks wasn’t involved in the killing of Davis or King, but testified earlier this week that Bulger had talked of their murders.
Weeks was charged with racketeering in 1999 and began cooperating with authorities. He pleaded guilty and served five years in prison for aiding in five murders.
Ann Marie Mires, who was with the state medical examiner’s office until 2009, testified Thursday that the remains of King and Davis were located in two separate graves in September, 2000.
She said the land had been altered because of nearby construction, and “it was difficult to locate the graves.”
Mires said investigators found King’s remains, with a bullet proof vest. A Bulger associate, John Martorano, testified earlier in the trial that King was wearing a bullet proof vest when he was killed. King’s blue three-piece suit, and claddagh ring, were also found.
Mires said authorities determined King was struck with a bullet in the back of the skull.
During the search for the graves, authorities had set up a crime scene the size of two football fields at the edge of the Neponset River. The search was postponed at times, but investigators ultimately found the intact remains of a woman.
“We determined this individual to be Debra Davis,” Mires said.
Steve Davis, her brother, sat in the courtroom, wiping tears from his eyes.
Mires said Davis’ cause of death was “homicidal violence, etiology unknown,” because the method of her murder was not clear. However, a rope was found at the scene.
Weeks testified that Bulger told him that Davis was strangled. Bulger did not say whether it was he or Flemmi who strangled Davis, according to Weeks.
Earlier, Mires told the jury that investigators recovered the body of Paul McGonagle, another of Bulger’s alleged victims, from the shores of Tenean Beach. McGonagle, a Bulger rival, went missing in November, 1974.
On Wednesday, Mires also said that investigators found the remains of three people in a shallow grave in January 2000 in land across from Florian Hall in Dorchester: Deborah Hussey, John McIntyre, and Arthur “Bucky” Barrett.
Weeks testified that Hussey, the daughter of Flemmi’s longtime girlfriend, was strangled by Bulger in a South Boston home in 1985.
John McIntyre was a Quincy fisherman who was killed in November 1984 after implicating Bulger’s gang in drug smuggling and an ill-fated effort to ship guns to the Irish Republican Army. Weeks said Bulger shot him in the head.
Barrett was a jewel thief and safecracker who was lured to a South Boston home in 1993 under the guise of a deal to sell diamonds. Weeks said Bulger interrogated him for hours at gunpoint over the whereabouts of his money from previous heists, including the 1980 Memorial Day weekend burglary of the Depositor’s Trust in Medford, which yielded more than $1 million.
Weeks said Bulger shot Barrett in the head after his gang took $47,000 from his home and $10,000 from his bar.
On Thursday, Elaine Barrett, his widow, told jurors that her husband went missing in late July, 1983, after making frantic phone calls for her to take her two children out of the house. She went for dinner in Quincy, and when she returned she noticed the house alarm had been deactivated.
“Did your husband Bucky Barrett return that night?” Assistant US Attorney Brian T. Kelly asks.
She said he did not. She never saw or spoke to him again.
Earlier Thursday, US District Court Judge Denise J. Casper today denied a request by Bulger for a delay in his racketeering and murder trial, a delay defense attorneys said was needed because the 83-year-old gangster is “exhausted’’ by the fast pace of the trial.
Bulger’s lawyers had today asked that the trial be put on hold until July 16, saying that in order for Bulger to be in the South Boston courthouse on time, he is awakened at the Plymouth County Correctional Facility every day at 4 a.m.
“This 83-year-old man is exhausted,’’ defense lawyers J.W. Carney Jr. and Henry Brennan wrote today.
But Assistant US Attorney Zachary Hafer urged Casper to reject Bulger’s request for a delay, arguing that the notion that Bulger is tired is no reason to postpone the proceedings.
“This man had 16 years to relax in California,” said Hafer, referring to Bulger’s 16 years on the run before his capture two years ago. “The victims in this case have waited long enough for justice.”
Casper refused to delay the case, but did agree to shorten the length of the trial on Thursdays to 1 p.m., matching the trial schedule for the rest of the week.
Initially, jurors were told the trial would likely run through September.Shelley Murphy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @shelleymurph. Milton J. Valencia can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia.