After decades waiting for this day, for a verdict that would convict the man who wrought so much havoc in their lives, relatives of the victims of James “Whitey” Bulger today experienced a mix of emotions after a federal jury said some of his alleged killings were not proven.
The jury in US District Court in Boston found the crime boss and FBI informant guilty of all but one of the 32 counts against him, including two counts of racketeering, six acts of extortion, as well as narcotics distribution, money laundering, and illegal firearms charges.
But they said the prosecution had proven that he committed only 11 of the 19 murders he was accused of orchestrating. The murders were contained in one of the counts Bulger faced.
The verdict enraged William O’Brien, who blamed prosecutors for not spending enough time proving that Bulger killed his father, also named William.
“That prosecution dropped the ball,” he said. “That jury should be ashamed of themselves.”
The jury found that the prosecution had proved that Bulger murdered Paul McGonagle, Edward Connors, Thomas King, Richard Castucci, Roger Wheeler, Brian Halloran, Michael Donahue, John Callahan, Arthur “Bucky” Barrett, John McIntyre, and Deborah Hussey.
It returned a “no finding” in the murder of Debra Davis, and decided that the prosecution had not proved that Bulger murdered members of the rival Notorangeli faction, Michael Milano, Al Plummer, William O’Brien, James O’Toole, Al Notorangeli, James Sousa, and Francis “Buddy” Leonard.
Patricia Donahue said she began to cry as the verdict was read, and it became clear that the jury found Bulger had killed her husband.
“I couldn’t hold my emotions,” she said. “I cried for myself. I cried for [the other families] because we are all in the same place.”
She added: “I feel relieved. My husband is up there looking down on all the hard work and time we put in for him. I’m sure he appreciates that. I’m sure he is very proud of his family.”
Donahue said her family would continue to pursue a civil suit against the federal government for allowing Bulger to operate as an informant while he committed violence.
“One down, one to go,” Donahue said.
Steve Davis, whose sister Debra Davis was killed, was unhappy with the verdict, saying he’s certain Bulger is guilty of taking part in her death.
“It’s not over for me,” he said.
He added: “It’s tough. But he is not going to be in the streets.”
Davis congratulated the prosecutors for “giving a good fight.” If he had one question for Bulger, it would be, “Why?”
“He had everything,” Davis said. “He had enough money that he could live on an island.”
As he stood before reporters outside the courthouse, he began to cry at the thought of bringing justice to her memory.
“She knows I’m a fighter,” he said. “The last man standing.”
Mobile users unable to see the video, click here.David Abel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davabel.