When the prosecutor called Theresa Bond’s name, she was still outside the courtroom, in the cafeteria, praying and preparing what she wanted to say.
Bond, the daughter of Arthur “Bucky” Barrett, had plenty to tell James “Whitey” Bulger, the man who killed her father. She hated how Bulger shot him in the head in a South Boston basement in 1983, and hated what it did to her family — two of her brothers committed suicide, and her mother suffered from years of depression.
But when Bond, now 50, returned to the crowded courtroom in Boston today, she looked at the notorious gangster, and she forgave him.
“I would ask you, Mr. Bulger, do you have remorse for taking my father’s life?” she asked, as those in the courtroom sat quietly.
“I believe that you do. ... I forgive you,” she said.
And she walked away.
Each of the 12 family members of Bulger’s victims who chose to speak in court today had their own way of expressing the pain they had suffered at Bulger’s hands over the years. The anger was palpable as some called him a rat, a coward, and even Satan.
But Patricia Donahue used her time to speak lovingly of her husband, Michael, a father of three and a 32-year-old innocent victim who was giving a friend a ride home when Bulger gunned him down in 1982.
And for Bond, a mother of five boys, the two-month trial that she and her family endured over the summer led up to this moment. Her father was more than the criminal described in the trial, she said. And even though he could not speak today, she could speak for him, and she would do it with the same sense of decency he had instilled in her before he was killed, when she was just 20.
“My father was loving, compassionate, and kind,” she said.
One of Bulger’s lawyers, J.W. Carney Jr., said his client, though he didn’t show it in the courtroom, was moved by much of the testimony today, but seemed particularly affected by Bond’s words.
“Her remarks were so remarkable, so spiritual. ... There wasn’t a person in the courtroom who was unmoved by her,” Carney said.
Bond’s son, Alec, 20, who also sat through much of the trial, said he could only hope that Bulger took his mother’s message to heart.
“Hopefully, he ponders the words my mom had to say to him [and] they take root,” he said. “He can think of what she told him as he sits in his jail cell.”
Theresa Bond asked Bulger to look at her during her testimony. He would not. But still, she said, she could not judge him. She blames him, hates what he did, and she blames the FBI and the Department of Justice, too, for allowing him to carry out his crimes, she said.
She asked Bulger to think of the man who said his prayers during the hours that Bulger had interrogated him, who had his wallet open to a picture of a little girl.
“That was me,” she told him.
“You will be summonsed to the highest judge, and it won’t be the law books that will be open, it will be the Book of Life,” she said.