BOSTON (CBS) – Janet Uhlar, a nurse who lives on the Cape, reported for jury duty at federal court in South Boston never imagining what would happen next. “I was in shock. I tried to stay away from anything Bulger or mafia or anything,” she said. She was juror #12 and performing her civic duty on such a lengthy case took its toll. “I’ve changed. I don’t think I’ll ever be the same after this. I have changed,” she said. “I don’t trust, I think. There’s a trust issue in the government and in law enforcement at all levels.”
In Uhlar’s opinion, everything in the trial was tainted. One of the most difficult for her was the story of disgraced former FBI Supervisor John Morris. The jury found his protection of Bulger led to at least two murders. He went on to retire from the FBI and collect a pension, Uhlar said. “It is just beyond words. It is disgusting. It’s disgusting,” she stressed.
The testimony from Bulger associates John Martarano, Stephen Flemmi and Kevin Weeks was tough to sit through, much less believe. “You hear about things like that, but to see these people in front of you that are telling you the stories of what they did to other people, it was awful. It’s haunting,” she said.
Once the jury got the case, she said they went through everything else, and then came back to count two, which included the murders. Seven Not Proved and one No Finding, she wanted families to know, did not mean an all clear. “In saying not proven, it wasn’t saying – and I want to emphasize this for the families of the victims, it was not saying that James Bulger had nothing to do with it. It was saying that the prosecution did not adequately do their job,” she said.
She believes her fellow jurors took their job seriously. But it was an emotional and physical strain. “We were having nightmares. I mean some of us, you know where not able to eat, losing weight some of us did,” she explained. And on verdict day, some jurors, were actually shaking as they entered the courtroom.
Uhlar says jurors did hear about the death of Stephen Rakes, who they decided Bulger extorted. Concerned family members called some of them worried for their safety. They assumed Bulger was connected, which police later said was not the case.
As for Whitey Bulger not taking the stand, Uhlar says she’d heard enough and would have nothing to say to him now. “We said what we had to say to him with the verdict,” she said. “Looking at him, it was just strange to imagine that he could’ve caused so much heartache and grief and he just looked like a tired old man.”