Notorious gangster James ‘Whitey’ Bulger to testify in his own defense

Bulger, left, and associate Kevin Weeks in 1994 at Castle Island in South Boston. Bulger claims he had immunity from the government when he committed crimes.
The Boston Globe

Lawyers for James “Whitey” Bulger said today in federal court in Boston that the notorious gangster will testify in his own defense at his trial.

Bulger, 82, is expected to tell jurors that he had immunity from the US Department of Justice that allowed him to commit crimes during his reign of terror three decades ago.

Attorney J.W. Carney Jr. said in court that he had wanted to file a motion to dismiss the case based on the immunity claim. However, he said, he could not meet a deadline that was arbitrarily set by the judge in the case, US District Judge Richard W. Stearns.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

He also said that, after consulting with Bulger, he believed his client would would have a fairer chance presenting his case to jurors rather than in a motion to dismiss.

“The jurors will hear directly from our client. James Bulger will testify. He will present evidence corroborated by others that he received immunity,” Carney said.

“He is going to tell the truth, if the judge permits him to,” Carney told reporters outside the courthouse. “And we will show that James Bulger is indeed telling the truth.”

Bulger was not at today’s hearing, a pre-scheduled status conference to update US Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler on trial preprations.

Bulger is accused of participating in 19 murders. He was arrested in June 2011 after more than 16 years on the lam, during which he was named one of America’s most wanted fugitives. He is slated to go to trial in March 2013.

Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, who was once allegedly Bulger’s associate, also unsuccesfully claimed he was protected by an immunity agreement, but US District Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf rejected the claim. An appeals court upheld Wolf’s decision.

Federal prosecutors said last month that Bulger’s immunity claim was “frivolous and unsubstantiated.”