BOSTON (CBS/AP) — A prosecutor called James “Whitey” Bulger a “little sociopath” Wednesday as he urged a judge to sentence the infamous South Boston gangster to life in prison, but Bulger himself declined to speak.
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“The defendant has committed one heinous crime after another,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Kelly. “The carnage that he has caused is grotesque.”
Kelly called Bulger “a sociopath with a twisted view of the world.”
“The defendant has been getting arrested since the time Harry Truman was president,” he said.
Bulger, now 84, was convicted in August in a broad indictment that included racketeering charges in a string of murders in the 1970s and ’80s, as well as extortion, money-laundering and weapons charges.
His attorneys said he refused to provide any information to probation officials preparing a report for Judge Denise Casper, who will sentence him Thursday.
Lead Bulger defense attorney J.W. Carney said that Bulger felt, and continues to feel, like his trial was “a sham.”
That’s why he didn’t speak at today’s sentencing and ordered his lawyers not to offer any sentence suggestions.
“From his perspective he did not receive a fair trial because he was not able to put forward everything that he could have told about the corruption and about the immunity deal he had reached with the federal prosecutor,” Carney explained.
Victims’ Families Speak
At least a dozen family members of people Bulger was involved in or accused of killing spoke Wednesday.
The first to do so was Sean McGonagle, the son of Bulger victim Paul McGonagle. He called Bulger “Satan,” a “domestic terrorist” and a “sad, lonely and irrelevant old man.” Paul McGonagle’s remains were found on a Dorchester beach. “There were hundreds of families he hurt, extorted and really intimidated. He didn’t make that town a better place I’ll you that,” his son Sean said.
Several family members of victims also blasted the Boston office of the FBI and the Justice Department for corruption that allowed Bulger to continue his reign of terror for years.
David Wheeler’s father, Roger, was killed on Bulger’s orders as part of a complex scheme to take over his Tulsa, Oklahoma Jai Alai business.
“He’s not a very brave man, he won’t even look at you,” Wheeler explained. “It did feel good to describe him for what he is, a bag of jailhouse rags waiting to be placed on cold steel…and I hope he enjoys every day of his retirement there.”
Bulger, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, stared down at the defense table and mostly did not look at victims’ relatives as they spoke. He was given the opportunity to speak but declined.
The family of victim Eddie Connors used a word repeated frequently. “The fact that he didn’t look around and make eye contact, I thought he was a coward,” said his son.
WBZ-TV’s Beth Germano reports
Patrick Callahan, whose father John was killed by Bulger, ended his impact statement by shouting at Whitey: “You won’t even turn around to look at us? Coward!”
Kathleen Connors-Nichols told Judge Denise Casper “I believe [Bulger] is evil, I believe he has left many lives in ruin.”
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones reports
Patricia Donahue talked of her husband Michael as the ultimate family man. He was killed as Bulger gunned for someone else. “I just wanted to really give my husband a personality. Nobody knew about him other than his name.” But her son Tommy was much more critical of Bulger’s decision not to speak when given a chance. “Typical of him as a coward. He could have been up there and even explain any part he wanted without any cross examination. He still backed out and didn’t do it, he’s a chump,” said Donahue.
Theresa Bond whose father Arthur Barrett was one of Bulger’s victims, demanded in court that he look at her. In the end, she said she could forgive him. “If I was in the flesh I’d strangle him, but I have Jesus in me and I forgive him,” she said.
Bulger’s courtroom silence was no surprise to anyone, even if it begged a question from Steve Davis, whose sister Debra was killed by the mob boss. “Does he know how people feel who’ve lost loved ones, someone close to them?” Davis’ legal battle continues since the jury returned “no finding” in his sister’s murder. “I want to get a verdict. I’d walk away a man at ease and know my family would feel the same,” said Davis.
The federal jury that convicted Bulger found prosecutors proved he played a role in 11 of 19 murders.
Jurors found the government had not proven Bulger participated in seven other killings and were unable to reach a verdict in another. But Casper ruled Wednesday that relatives of all 19 people could speak at the sentencing if they wanted, despite objections from Bulger’s attorneys.
Bulger, the former head of the Winter Hill Gang, fled Boston in 1994 ahead of an indictment and spent more than 16 years as a fugitive before being captured in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2011.
WBZ-TV’s Beth Germano and Jim Armstrong contributed to this report
(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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