Jurors stared in awed silence Wednesday as gruesome crime scene photos of James “Whitey” Bulger’s alleged handiwork were flashed across screens around the courtroom: a bloodied body crumpled in a telephone booth, a bullet-riddled corpse at the morgue, a car littered with shell casings and shattered glass.
The relatives of some of the victims, who have come to US District Court in Boston nearly every day of Bulger’s racketeering trial, focused intently on the images. But Patricia Donahue deliberately looked away. She sat in the courtroom’s front row with the three sons she raised alone after her husband, Michael, was gunned down in 1982 along the South Boston Waterfront.
“I have anxiety attacks,” said a visibly shaken Donahue, who could not bear to look at the photos of the blue Datsun, its windows shot out and blood splattered inside. Her husband was giving a ride to Edward “Brian” Halloran, who prosecutors say was Bulger’s intended target. Both men were killed.
“It brings back too many bad memories for me,” she said. “I feel that knife in my stomach. . . . I don’t want to remember him that way, I want to remember the way I remember him.”
On the sixth day of testimony, prosecutors shifted focus to the victims as hit man-turned-witness John Martorano wrapped up his testimony and as a Boston police detective was called to the stand.
Sergeant Detective William Doogan, who supervises the homicide unit’s cold case squad, identified photos from the fatal shootings of eight of Bulger’s 19 alleged victims. Those victims were: Michael Milano, Al Plummer, James “Spike” O’Toole, Al Notarangeli, Edward Connors, Francis “Buddy” Leonard, Halloran, and Donahue.
All the slayings had been considered unsolved until Martorano and two other former Bulger associates began cooperating with authorities, implicating Bulger and themselves in some of the killings.
One of the most gruesome images was of Connors, a former boxer and tavern owner, as he lay dead in a phone booth on Morrissey Boulevard in Dorchester, the receiver dangling over his blood-splattered body.
Martorano, who served 12 years for 20 murders after cutting a deal with the government, testified Tuesday that Bulger and Stephen Flemmi ambushed Connors June 12, 1975. Though Martorano said Bulger participated in 11 murders with him, he said Connors was the only one in which Bulger was the triggerman.
Bulger’s lawyer, J.W. Carney Jr., argued Wednesday that the photos of victims, some naked on gurneys at the morgue, were “shocking” and prejudicial against Bulger and should not be shown to jurors.
Assistant US Attorney Fred Wyshak argued that the defense had not objected to graphic photos of people Martorano admitted shooting. “I don’t think it’s fair after we put in Mr. Martorano’s handiwork not to put in photos that are Mr. Bulger’s handiwork,” he said.
Judge Denise J. Casper allowed many of the photos, but prosecutors opted not to show images of the bodies of Donahue or Halloran, only those of the car they died in.
“For any family member to sit and see pictures of their loved ones all shot up . . . it’s horrible,” Donahue’s son Tom said outside the courthouse. “It’s horrible. But also on the other end, if you need to show those photos to show what a butcher, brutal murderer he was, then so be it.”
Bulger, 83, is charged with participating in 19 murders, extortion, money laundering, and stockpiling guns.
On Wednesday, prosecutors requested a court order that would grant immunity for two witnesses they plan to call and that would compel them to testify. The witnesses, Francis G. Capizzi and Ralph DeMasi Sr., may invoke their rights against self-incrimination, according to prosecutors.
Capizzi was one of two passengers wounded when Martorano sprayed the car they were riding in with bullets, killing Plummer in 1973.
DeMasi was wounded in a separate incident when the car he was riding in was fired on, killing William O’Brien in 1973.
Earlier, Martorano completed his testimony after three days on the stand, then walked out of court, a free man.
“Like I said, I had good lawyers,” Martorano told Bulger attorney Henry Brennan.
Martorano admitted that he cooperated with law enforcement to avoid the death penalty for murders he committed in Oklahoma and Florida and insisted he was a truthful man even though he lied to his best friend just before he shot him in the back of the head in 1982.
Martorano also admitted under cross-examination that he initially told State Police in 1998 that Flemmi helped him kill O’Toole and that the killing took place in 1975.
Martorano said he recanted when he discovered O’Toole was slain in 1973 and realized Flemmi could not have been involved because he was on the lam then. Martorano said they talked about it so much on the phone he mistakenly thought Flemmi had been there.