James “Whitey” Bulger is on trial in a 32-count racketeering indictment accusing him of a long list of crimes, including participating in 19 killings. Here’s a look at the case against him, his defense and what’s happening in the courtroom:
The 83-year-old Bulger, the alleged former leader of the Winter Hill Gang, cultivated an early image as a modern-day Robin Hood who gave Thanksgiving dinners to working-class neighbors and kept drug dealers out of his South Boston neighborhood. But that was shattered when authorities started digging up bodies. He fled Boston in 1994 and became one of the nation’s most wanted fugitives until he was captured in 2011 in Santa Monica, Calif., where he had been living with his longtime girlfriend in a rent-controlled apartment.
Bulger’s former partner and friend, Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, 79, took the witness stand against him Friday. In rapid-fire succession, Flemmi described Bulger’s alleged role in a string of killings during the 1970s and ’80s. He said Bulger either planned the killings, approved them or committed them himself. Bulger looked straight ahead and took notes on a legal pad. When Flemmi began his testimony on Thursday, the two men exchanged obscenities as court adjourned for the day. Prosecutors have said they expect to rest their case this week.
Bulger’s lawyers have not had a chance to cross-examine Flemmi yet. Earlier Thursday, Bulger attorney J.W. Carney Jr. cross-examined a former drug dealer who testified that Bulger demanded $1 million at gunpoint during a 1983 meeting. William David Lindholm described himself as a major marijuana smuggler who distributed along the East Coast. He said he negotiated the amount demanded by Bulger down to $250,000 and agreed to pay it. Lindholm acknowledged that he testified under oath that he would not seek any benefit from his testimony, but later allowed his lawyer to ask prosecutors for a reduction in his sentence for his cooperation in a separate case.
Eleven men and seven women make up the panel of 12 regular jurors and six alternates.
Flemmi is expected to continue his testimony on Monday.