James “Whitey” Bulger’s lawyers argued Wednesday that they should be allowed to call his former associate, Patrick Nee, as a witness in his federal racketeering trial because he has been identified as Bulger’s accomplice in many slayings, yet has never been charged with any of them.
“He’s an eyewitness to many of the core allegations in this case,” Bulger’s lawyer, Hank Brennan, said during a hearing after jurors had been excused for the day. “If the government doesn’t want to call an eyewitness, we will.”
But prosecutors accused the defense of grandstanding and said it is an effort to force Nee to take the stand and invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination before the jury. The defense has attacked the credibility of the government’s key witnesses — gangsters John Martorano, Kevin Weeks, and Stephen Flemmi — asserting they withheld information that could hurt Nee and other associates while cooperating against Bulger.
Yet Flemmi testified over the last several days that Nee was involved in at least 10 killings in the 1970s and 1980s, including several that occurred at the South Boston home of Nee’s brother, and helped bury some of the victims.
Assistant US Attorney Brian T. Kelly said that the only way to force Nee to testify would be to grant him immunity from prosecution and that prosecutors will not do that.
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