BOSTON — Jurors began their deliberations Tuesday in the trial of James “Whitey” Bulger, the reputed crime boss who is accused of participating in 19 murders during a two-decade reign over Boston’s underworld.
The jury deliberated for nearly six hours before being dismissed for the day. Deliberations will resume Wednesday morning.
Bulger is charged with orchestrating or committing the killings during the 1970s and ‘80s while he allegedly led the notorious Winter Hill Gang, a crew of mostly Irish-American gangsters.
Bulger was one of the nation’s most wanted fugitives after he fled Boston in 1994 ahead of an indictment. During his 16 years on the run, his secret relationship with the FBI as an informant was revealed, embarrassing the FBI and exposing corruption within the bureau.
Bulger, now 83, was finally captured in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2011, where he had been living in a rent-controlled apartment near the beach with his longtime girlfriend.
In a 32-count racketeering indictment, Bulger is accused of being a hands-on boss who killed anyone he saw as a potential rival or danger to the gang. He is accused of shooting or strangling some of the victims himself. In other cases, he allegedly ordered the slayings, or participated in some other way.
He is also accused of making millions by extorting drug dealers, bookmakers and legitimate businessmen by threatening to hurt or kill them or their families.
Bulger’s lawyers strongly denied that Bulger was ever an informant and told jurors the government’s three main witnesses — all once-loyal Bulger cohorts — were pathological liars who blamed Bulger for crimes they committed so they could get reduced sentences.
In her instructions to jurors, the judge said they should consider whether certain witnesses received benefits from the government and whether they could have a motive to make up stories.
“You may believe all of the testimony of a witness or some of it or none of it,” Casper said.
The jury heard testimony from 72 witnesses during the eight-week trial.
Bulger faces a maximum sentence of life plus 30 years, the same sentence his former partner, Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, is now serving.
In addition to racketeering charges, Bulger is charged with extortion, conspiracy, and multiple money-laundering and weapons counts.