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Judge rejects bid to delay Bulger trial

Lawyers sought more time to prepare for witnesses

James “Whitey” Bulger is tired after weeks of waking up early for his commute from a South Shore jail to a Boston courthouse, his lawyers said Thursday in a motion seeking a delay in his federal racketeering trial.

Bulger is awakened at 4 a.m. at the Plymouth County Correctional Facility for the trip to the US District Court in South Boston, and by the time he returns to his cell “this 83-year-old man is exhausted,” his lawyers wrote.

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Defense lawyers J.W. Carney Jr. and Hank Brennan also wrote that they “hit a wall’’ after struggling to be ready for trial each day because the case is moving faster than expected. They asked the judge to suspend the proceedings until Tuesday to give them more time to prepare.

US District Court Judge Denise J. Casper denied the request, saying it is not unusual for trials to proceed more quickly than planned. However, she agreed to end court on Thursdays at 1 p.m., the same time as the rest of the week, instead of 3:30. The trial, which began June 12, was initially expected to last through September but is now expected to end much sooner.

Assistant US Attorney Zachary Hafer opposed delaying the trial, arguing that Bulger “had 16 years to relax” while he was a fugitive, adding, “The victims in this case have waited long enough for justice.”

Bulger — arrested in Santa Monica, Calif., in June 2011 — is charged in a sweeping racketeering indictment with participating in 19 murders, extortion, money laundering, and illegal possession of an arsenal of guns.

Taking the stand for a second day Thursday, a forensic anthropologist showed jurors more images of human bones as she described how investigators uncovered the hidden graves of two more of Bulger’s alleged victims, Debra Davis and Thomas King.

“This is a frontal view of Debra Davis’s skull,” said Ann Marie Mires, describing how the skeletal remains of the 26-year-old Davis were found after days of digging in October 2000 at the edge of the Neponset River in Quincy.

Davis’s brother, Steve, who has attended the trial every day, wiped tears from his eyes as he sat with his wife, looking at the images of what was left of his sister.

“Today was probably the hardest day of all to see,” Davis said. “It bothered me.”

Bulger’s longtime partner, Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, who is expected to take the stand next week, has testified in prior proceedings that he lured Debra Davis, his girlfriend, to his parents’ South Boston house in 1981 and watched Bulger strangle her. Flemmi said that Davis was leaving him for another man and that Bulger considered her a liability because she knew they were FBI informants. Bulger denies killing Davis.

Mires also identified the remains of King, who vanished in November 1975 and was buried yards from Davis along the river bank.

Hitman-turned-government witness John Martorano testified earlier that Bulger asked King to help him kill someone, and when King showed up wearing a bulletproof vest, Martorano shot him in the head.

In court Thursday, Mires showed jurors remnants of a blue bulletproof vest, claddagh ring, and navy suit found with King’s remains, and bullet fragments in his skull.

On Wednesday Mires identified remains of Paul McGonagle Jr., who was killed in 1974 and recovered in 2000 from a grave at Tenean Beach in Dorchester. She also identified the remains of Arthur “Bucky” Barrett, Deborah Hussey, and John McIntyre, recovered from a single grave across from Florian Hall in Dorchester in 2000.

Former Bulger associate Kevin Weeks testified earlier that Bulger killed Barrett, Hussey, and McIntyre in the 1980s at a South Boston home, where they were buried in the basement. They were reburied at the Dorchester site.

Barrett’s widow, Elaine, testified Thursday that she last spoke to her husband in July 1983, when he called and told her to leave their Quincy home with their two young sons. She said she set the alarm and left for an hour, then returned to discover someone had been there and shut off the alarm.

Weeks testified that Bulger and Flemmi went to Barrett’s house and seized $47,000.

Jurors also heard from Thomas Daly, a retired FBI agent who testified that Revere nightclub owner Richard Castucci, an alleged Bulger victim, was his informant.

Daly testified that Castucci told him in 1976 that two fugitive Winter Hill gang members would soon be returning to a safehouse they rented in New York City.

Three days later, Castucci was shot to death. Martorano has testified that FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr. told Bulger that Castucci was an informant, so he was killed. Daly also testified that the FBI did not investigate Castucci’s murder.

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