Bulger Day 4: Martorano Takes the Stand

Bulger’s former hitman linked him to several murders in his first day of testimony.

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’s what you missed: 

The Witnesses: After an opening act from bookie Dick O’Brien, who finished up the testimony he began Friday, we got to the main event, hitman Johnny Martorano, who tied Bulger to many of the murders he committed through the years as his criminal associate. He began his testimony by saying of Bulger and Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi: “They were my partners in crime, they were my best friends, they were my children’s godfathers.” Martorano is one of the prosecution’s key witnesesses, because he’s already copped to 20 murders and will offer testimony linking Bulger to his own crimes. The defense will try to portray him as unreliable because of his criminal past and plea deal.

Most all the reporters in court described the bored way Martorano described his numerous grisly murders as unsettling. Among the more notable descriptions he offered were the gang’s first two failed attempts to kill Alfred “Indian Al” Notarangeli at the request of the mafia. On the first try, Martorano shot Michael Milano, a young bartender for Notarangeli who, unfortunately, drove a car similar to his boss’s. “Wrong guy,” Martorano said in court of the mistake. (WBUR has a great in-depth account of that killing, as well as the others for which Bulger is standing trial.)

Martorano also described killing Herbert Smith, a man who he says he targeted for laughing at Stephen Flemmi, adding that in opening fire on Smith’s car, he also killed a woman and a teenage boy who accompanied him.  “I wanted to kill myself,” he told the courtroom. “I wanted to shoot myself.’’

Probably the oddest part of hearing a man describe his many successful murders is the knowledge that he lives in Cambridge now, a free man who served just 12 years in prison after agreeing to cooperate as a witness. He’s also sold the rights to his life story and collected royalties on a book by Howie Carr.

The Fashion: Big news on the Bulger fashion beat, which is that Whitey dressed up for court today. Sort of.

The Jury: Despite the exciting day, Sleepy Juror, who seemed to have gotten his drowsiness under control, is back to struggling for consciousness. According to the Eagle Eyed Adam Reilly of WGBH, anyway:

Consider switching to Claritin, Sleepy Juror. This is getting embarrassing.

  • Heath Filmore

    Yikes! All of this Bulger stuff reminds me of another badass I read about. In
    the 70s this guy ran Detroit’s heroin trade, he once plotted to rob a
    Brinks truck with an inside man and even threatened to blow up Detroit
    airport unless he was paid a million bucks. To top it off, he was a
    federal agent – an ATF man! The book about him’s called BAD LIKE JESSE
    JAMES.