Saturday, 2:15 PM
Police officers testify in Connolly's defense
By Shelley Murphy, Globe Staff
MIAMI -- A parade of current and former police officers have been called to the stand today in the state murder trial of former FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr. in an apparent effort by the defense to cast doubt on claims that he leaked information to longtime informants James "Whitey" Bulger and Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi that prompted them to kill several people.
Two officers testified about encounters with Bulger associate Edward "Brian" Halloran, indicating that he was being targeted long before he was gunned down by Bulger in a drive-by shooting on Boston's waterfront in May 1982.
Boston Police Detective Timothy Lynch told the Florida jury that he responded to a call of shots fired near a union hall on Freeport Street in Dorchester on June 6, 1981, and found Halloran sitting in a parking lot uninjured in his Cadillac -- its rear window shattered by bullets.
Lynch said he didn't know who Halloran was at the time, but later discovered he was a known criminal, with a history of loansharking and extortion.
"It's not unusual for someone who commits those violent crimes to have someone try to shoot at them, right?" asked Miami-Dade assistant state attorney Michael Von Zamft during cross-examination. "No sir,'' said Lynch.
Retired Quincy Police Detective David Schofield testified that he investigated a report that a gun was fired at Halloran's condo on Willard Street in Quincy in April 1981. He said he found a bullet mark on the building.
Schofield testified that Halloran told him he suspected that a loanshark victim, whose leg he had broken, may have fired the shot at his apartment.
Flemmi, who is serving a life sentence for 10 murders, testified earlier that Bulger killed Halloran after Connolly warned him and Bulger that Halloran had become an FBI informant and was cooperating against them. Halloran started cooperating with the FBI in January 1982 and told investigators that Bulger, Flemmi, and Boston business consultant John B. Callahan had orchestrated the 1981 slaying of a legitimate Tulsa businessman who suspected them of skimming from his company.
Flemmi also testified that he and Bulger also orchestrated the murder of Callahan in Florida in August 1982 after Connolly warned that he was being sought for questioning by the FBI and would likely implicate the gangsters in murder.
Connolly, 68, who retired from the FBI in 1990, is accused of murder and conspiracy to commit murder in Callahan's slaying. However, prosecutors have presented a mountain of additional evidence -- including the allegations involving Halloran -- in an effort to prove he was a corrupt agent.
After Halloran's slaying, Connolly reported to the FBI that his informants had told him that Halloran may have been killed because it had been learned on the street that he was an informant for the State Police.
This morning, a retired Massachusetts State Police trooper, Henry Werner, testified that Halloran had become an informant for him after they met socially in the late 1970s. However, he also said that he only told one other trooper about their informant relationship and never documented it within the State Police.
Today, before the jury came into the courtroom, Connolly had an emotional reunion with his 17-year-old twin sons, who came to court for the first time since testimony began five weeks ago, dressed in khaki pants and collared striped shirts. They arrived with their mother, Elizabeth, and sat with her, Connolly's sister, and a family friend two rows behind the defense team.
It appeared that Connolly hasn't seen his sons in some time. He remarked over how tall they were. Connolly, who is serving a 10-year prison term for a 2002 federal racketeering conviction, hugged each of the teenagers and chatted for several minutes, separated by a railing that divides the spectator section from the interior courtroom.
The former agent, who had changed from a red prison jumpsuit into a suit coat and tie before coming into the courtroom, took off his eyeglasses and wiped tears from his eyes.
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