As he draws in on 80, Stevie Flemmi doesn’t exactly strike fear into hearts anymore. But he has a pretty good memory.
He was up in the witness box Friday, rattling off all manner of detail, from the murders he was involved in in the 1960s, to the deal he cut with feds a decade ago to avoid the death penalty in Florida and Oklahoma.
Stevie recalled killing guys and cleaning up their congealed brains the way other guys his age might remember Ted Williams hitting a home run at Fenway Park during his final at-bat.
A day after Whitey and Stevie mouthed obscenities at each other, they more or less ignored each other Friday.
Stevie claimed that Whitey put him in the employ of Whitey’s FBI handler, John Connolly, by insisting that they meet. When the meeting included Dennis Condon, one of Stevie’s handlers from the 1960s, Stevie was convinced that the FBI men had tipped Whitey off that Stevie was an FBI informant long before Whitey became one.
Whitey seemed bored as Stevie explained they had Connolly on the payroll, that after giving him a cut from a drug deal, Connolly cracked, “I feel like one of the gang.”
Whitey didn’t even look up as Stevie claimed they had given cash to five other FBI agents: John Morris, John Newton, Mike Buckley, Nick Gianturco, and Jack Cloherty. All those agents, except for Morris, a key prosecution witness against Connolly and Whitey, deny taking payoffs. Connolly is the only one who ever faced charges.
You mean, Wyshak said, Whitey kills people and lets everybody else do the work?
Whitey couldn’t be bothered when Stevie testified that Newton, at whose home in South Boston the two informants regularly met with Connolly, gave them a consignment of C-4 explosives Whitey and Stevie promptly shipped off to the Irish Republican Army. Newton denied that to my colleague Shelley Murphy.
But Stevie got Whitey’s attention when he started talking about how Whitey not only convinced him to kill his longtime girlfriend Debbie Davis in 1981, but that Whitey did the killing himself.
Still, Whitey kept his head down.
Of the 19 murders he is charged with, it is the murders of Davis and Deborah Hussey, the daughter of Stevie’s common law wife, with which Whitey is obsessed. He sees himself as the ultimate good bad guy, a gangster with scruples, and gangsters with scruples don’t strangle defenseless 26-year-old women.
But that’s exactly what Stevie says Whitey did to Debbie Davis, whom Stevie began dating when she was 17 and he was twice her age.
When Fred Wyshak, the prosecutor, asked Stevie if he loved Debbie, he paused.
“I loved her, but I wasn’t in love with her,” he said. “She was a young girl. She needed a lot of attention.”
Too much, according to Whitey. He got annoyed when Stevie got annoyed when he called Stevie, demanding his presence, often to meet with their handler, Connolly.
“We had some words,” said Stevie, referring to Whitey’s complaints that Stevie was spending too much time with Debbie, a Farah Fawcett lookalike. It got real bad when Whitey called Stevie at Debbie’s birthday party, demanding that he leave the party to join Whitey and Connolly. When Debbie complained, Stevie said he “blurted out” why.
“We got a connection, John Connolly of the FBI,” Stevie told Debbie. “That’s why I gotta leave.”
He might as well have signed her death warrant. Now she knew too much.
Whitey found out that Debbie knew too much when Debbie’s brother was killed in prison, and Stevie called Connolly at her behest saying the family would appreciate Connolly using his FBI status to find out what happened.
Whitey also complained that Debbie’s lavish lifestyle — new cars, jewelry, frequent vacations, all paid for by Stevie — was potentially calling attention to their gang.
“He said he wanted to kill her,” Stevie said, and with that his betrayal of his former partner in crime was complete. “I said, ‘No.’ He explained the reasons why. John Connolly had helped us. Now we’re jeopardizing all of this.”
Stevie protested, noting that Whitey’s two main girlfriends, Teresa Stanley and Cathy Greig, had met John Connolly. And Connolly’s wife had met Whitey and Stevie, but Whitey never suggested killing any of them.
Stevie says Whitey wore him down with reasoning, that Debbie was leaving him and might give them up, so he reluctantly agreed to kill Debbie. He said Whitey orchestrated the whole thing.
“My mother bought a house in South Boston,” Stevie said. “He said, ‘Bring her there.’ ”
Stevie didn’t say and Wyshak didn’t ask, but that house was right next door to the home of Bill Bulger, Whitey’s politician brother.
“She walked in the entrance there, and he grabbed her by the neck. I couldn’t do it. He knew it. He told me, ‘I’ll take care of it.’ ”
Stevie claims he stood there helplessly as Whitey choked the life out of Debbie, dragging her toward the basement steps and into the basement where they had laid out a tarp to begin the trussing of her, the removal of her teeth.
When Debbie was dead, Whitey went up and looked around for a place to lie down, in the house right across from his brother’s. But there was no furniture in the house yet, so he just lay on the floor, as Stevie stripped her of her clothes and her teeth, in the house he just bought for his mother.
Wyshak asked Flemmi if shirking the dirty work was typical of Whitey. “That’s what he does,” Stevie said.
Same thing when they were burying Debbie. Stevie dug the hole. You mean, Wyshak said, Whitey kills people and lets everybody else do the work?
Whitey’s lawyers objected. But it was pretty pointless. Everybody knew the answer.Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeCullen.