Bulger on Trial: The Opening Arguments

By | Boston Daily |

So Whitey Bulger’s on trial and you’re interested in hearing about it, but you’ve got this darn day job and you can’t manage to keep up with all the live tweets. We feel you. Here are the Sparknotes:

The Opening Arguments: After the judge gave the freshly picked jury their instructions, the lawyers for the prosecution and defense gave their opening arguments, presenting quite different accounts of Bulger’s crimes, and a fairly good roadmap for the way the trial is going to play out. The most interesting disagreements between Bulger and the government surround Bulger’s especial adamance that he didn’t kill either of the women he’s accused of murdering and that he wasn’t an informant for the FBI.

The Prosecution: Assistant US Attorney Brian T. Kelly’s takeaway quote came after he listed the 19 victims Bulger is accused of killing. “That, ladies and gentlemen, is what this case is about,” he said. “A hands-on killer who led an extensive criminal enterprise.” Kelly was also sure to emphasize that while Bulger liked saying he kept drugs out of the neighborhood, he helped distribute them and made millions doing so.

Three of the government’s star witnesses, Kevin Weeks, John Martorano, and Stephen Flemmi, are former Bulger associates, and Kelly spent some time trying to walk the line between portraying them as complicit in Bulger’s crimes and still trustworthy for the purposes of the trial. “Clearly, Flemmi is a vicious killer. But also clearly, he was Bulger’s partner,” he said.

The Defense: Bulger’s attorney J.W. Carney Jr. argued that Whitey would never have acted as an informant because it was against his code. He alleges that FBI Agent John Connolly provided Bulger with useful info in exchange for money. “The reason Connolly created the file was just a cover-up for why he was being seen with Bulger so often,” he said. “The worst thing an Irish person could consider doing was becoming an informant.” Bulger left Boston, he said, because he heard news of his indictment on the radio, not because he received a tip from the FBI.

The fashion: Globe columnist Kevin Cullen, no friend of Whitey’s, provided the snarky fashion coverage for the day.

Courtroom character of the day: That award goes to “Sleepy juror guy,” an alternate juror who apparently had some trouble staying awake during the opening argument. Heck, he couldn’t get anything done without pesky WGBH reporter Adam Reilly catching him in the act.

Inevitably, this spawned a parody Twitter account @sleepyjuror

Yeah, that’s enough for today.