'Whitey' Bulger jury gets weekend off, no verdict yet

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 09, 2013 11:24 AM
'Whitey' Bulger jury gets weekend off, no verdict yet

By Scott Malone

BOSTON (Reuters) - The U.S. jury hearing the murder and racketeering trial of James "Whitey" Bulger ended a fourth day of deliberations on Friday without reaching a verdict on charges that could leave the former mob boss in jail for the rest of his life.

Bulger, 83, faces a sweeping 32-count indictment that also charges him with extortion, money laundering and drug trafficking dating back to his years running Boston's feared Winter Hill crime gang in the 1970s and '80s.

U.S. District Judge Denise Capser dismissed the eight men and four women on the jury for the weekend. The panel will return to Boston's waterfront courthouse on Monday to resume deliberations.

About a dozen family members of people Bulger is accused of killing were camped out at the courthouse awaiting a verdict. Some played cards in the courthouse's cafeteria on Friday.

Bulger, who inspired the character played by Jack Nicholson in Martin Scorsese's 2006 Academy Award-winning film "The Departed" has pleaded not guilty to all charges. His attorneys did concede he was a drug dealer, extortionist and loan shark, in essence an "organized criminal."

Casper has urged the jury to reach unanimous verdicts on all the charges, including 19 murders Bulger is accused of committing or ordering in the 1970s and '80s.

Prosecutors on Friday lodged a protest with the judge about comments made a day earlier by defense attorney J.W. Carney to reporters outside the courthouse.

Carney had praised jurors for their diligence. The comments were reported in the Boston Herald newspaper under the headline: "Whitey's lawyers praise diligent jury."

Carney had also removed his shoes and showed reporters his purple-painted toenails, but prosecutors did not object to that display.

"It is one thing if Mr. Carney wants to discuss his strange personal habits with the media but we can't have headlines like these," Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Kelly told the judge.

Bulger's eight-week trial brought back memories of an era in Boston when machine-gun toting gangsters assassinated rivals, shook down fellow criminals and local business owners. Prosecutors said corrupt FBI agents sharing Bulger's Irish ethnicity turned a blind eye to his gang's crimes in exchange for information they could use against the Italian Mafia.

But Bulger, along with pleading not guilty to the crimes he was charged with, insisted he also was not "a rat."

His story has long fascinated Boston. Bulger rose from a housing project to become one of the most feared men in the city at the same time as his brother William served as the powerful president of the state senate.

After decades atop the city's criminal underworld, Bulger fled after a 1994 tip from corrupt FBI agent John Connolly. He eluded authorities for 16 years, part of that time listed on the bureau's "Ten Most Wanted" list of fugitives. In June 2011, Agents caught up with him living in a seaside apartment in Santa Monica, California, with his girlfriend.

The officer who arrested him recalled the words from the mobster that ended the long mystery of his whereabouts: "You know who I am. I'm 'Whitey' Bulger."

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Richard Valdmanis and David Gregorio)