Bulger lawyers ask judge to bar testimony from families of alleged murder victims
Lawyers for James “Whitey” Bulger on Wednesday asked a judge to bar testimony at his November sentencing from relatives of his alleged murder victims whose deaths were not tied decisively to the gangster.
In a legal filing, the defense attorneys wrote that prosecutors have indicated they would like approximately 15 people to give victim impact statements at Bulger’s sentencing, including relatives of victims of “certain offenses of which the defendant was not convicted.”
“The court should find that the government has not proven these allegations by a preponderance of the evidence and, as a result, it should not hear evidence relating to these offenses at sentencing,” the lawyers wrote.
The jury in Bulger’s eight-week racketeering trial found in August that he participated in 11 murders but that prosecutors failed to prove his involvement in seven others. Jurors returned a decision of “no finding” in the murder of Debra Davis, who was strangled in 1981 at the age of 26.
Prosecutors had not responded to the defense filing as of late Wednesday night.
Last month, Assistant US Attorney Brian T. Kelly said relatives of the 19 people Bulger was accused of killing in the 1970s and 1980s want to file victim impact statements and that at least 14 want to speak at Bulger’s sentencing hearing, slated for Nov. 13 and 14.
On Wednesday, Bulger’s defense team assailed the credibility of former associates John Martorano and Stephen”The Rifleman” Flemmi, saying much of the evidence in the crimes that prosecutors could not prove came the pair.
The lawyers said Flemmi -- who dated Davis and who testified that Bulger strangled her -- “is a self-admitted perjurer” who “was unable to reconcile his past lies with his ever-shifting trial testimony.”
The attorneys wrote that Flemmi “killed Davis out of jealousy and homicidal rage” once he learned she wanted to leave him. Flemmi, 79, is serving a life sentence for 10 murders.
Davis’s brother, Steve, said after a court hearing last month that he believes Bulger and Flemmi were equally responsible for his sister’s slaying and that he should be allowed to speak at the sentencing.
“I don’t feel justice was served on my behalf,” he said. “I just want to voice that.”
Bulger’s lawyers were equally dismissive of Martorano in their filing, writing that he testified about “virtually every offense” brought against the gangster that prosecutors failed to prove.
They referenced Martorano’s controversial plea deal that allowed him to serve a 12-year sentence for 20 murders in exchange for cooperating against Bulger and helping expose his corrupt relationship with the FBI. They wrote that Martorano came off as a “rabid liar” with an “obvious motivation to lie.”
The defense team added, “This court should not endorse the lies of mass murderers when a jury of twelve citizens has rejected them.”
Bulger, 84, faces life in prison, plus an additional 30 or 35 years for the slayings, racketeering, extortion, drug dealing, money laundering, and weapons charges, according to prosecutors.Shelley Murphy of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.