BOSTON (CBS) – Whitey Bulger won’t testify in his own defense at his trial, which he called a “sham” Friday.
Bulger, 83, is charged with participating in 19 murders in the 1970’s and 80’s. His attorney J.W. Carney Jr. finished presenting defense witnesses Friday morning, leading to the dramatic moment when the question would finally be answered – Would Bulger take the stand?
As U.S. District Court Judge Denise Casper asked Bulger if this was his decision not top testify, he stood and replied, “that’s correct.”
‘I’m making the choice involuntarily. I feel like I’ve been choked off from having an adequate opportunity,” Bulger said in a calm and measured tone.
“As far as I’m concerned, I didn’t get a fair trial. This is a sham.”
As Bulger announced his decision, Patricia Donahue, the widow of murder victim Michael Donahue, yelled “you’re a coward!”
“Do what yas want with me,” Bulger said as victims’ relatives shouted from the gallery.
Other families of alleged Bulger victims groaned and were clearly upset by the “sham” accusation.
Bulger said he wanted to testify, but only about his claimed immunity deal he said he received from the late federal prosecutor Jeremiah O’Sullivan.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones reports
Casper told Bulger she understood his position, but noted that she made her decision a long time ago that the immunity claim was not admissible at this trial.
Carney told reporters outside court later in the afternoon that Bulger’s statement to the judge was “100-percent” Bulger’s words and views.
“He blames an unfair trial on the Department of Justice, yet he won’t get on the stand and tell all. If you think the government has done wrong by you, then get up there and talk about it,” Patricia Donohue told reporters outside the court afterward.
“I was very disappointed that he did not get up and speak.”
Watch: Patricia Donohue reaction
The jury was not present during the announcement or its aftermath.
When they returned, the defense formally rested its case. Casper told them they have the weekend off and that closing arguments for both sides will be presented Monday.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens reports
Seventy-three witnesses took the stand, 62 for the prosecution and 11 for the defense during 35 days of testimony.
The jury will likely begin deliberations Tuesday morning.
WBZ-TV’s Jim Armstong contributed to this report. You can follow Jim on Twitter @JimArmstrongWBZ.