• Defense grills ex-Bulger associate about murders, story profits


    BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com) – James "Whitey" Bulger's defense team continued their attempt at poking holes in former Bulger associate John Martorano's credibility as a witness Wednesday.

    Defense attorney Hank Brennan focused on Bulger's alleged involvement in approving the murder of businessman Roger Wheeler. In previous interviews with law enforcement, Martorano said Steve "The Rifleman" Flemmi approved the murder because it would help out ex-FBI agent H. Paul Rico who worked in security at World Jai Alai. Martorano also said it would help his friend John Callahan.

    Brennan asked Martorano whether or not Bulger directly gave him approval for the hit. Martorano said he received the order through Flemmi, but that both Bulger and Flemmi approved of the hit because they were offered $10,000 a week from World Jai Alai if Callahan was able to buy the gaming company from Wheeler's widow.

    Martorano said he thought he was partners with Bulger and that the reputed mob chief was not his boss. He also admitted to conducting business independently while on the lam in Florida.

    Brennan grilled Martorano about potential inconsistencies in past statements given to law enforcement regarding several murders he played a role in.

    Martorano admitted that he was wrong when he told police that Flemmi was beside him and shot a machine gun during the 1973 murder of James "Spike" O'Toole. Flemmi was living in Canada at the time of the murder and did not return until May 1974. The former Bulger associate claims he told investigators he was wrong and thought the murder happened in 1975.

    The defense also touched upon Martorano's deal with the government. They noted that his deal involved a "target list" of seven names that Martorano would need to cooperate against. Of the seven, he has only been asked to testify against two: Bulger and Flemmi. He admits he "knew of" many of the men on the list, including Bulger's so-called "right-hand man" Kevin Weeks, but did not personally know them.

    Martorano admitted that he was given $20,000 upon his release from prison and had $200,000 in seized property returned to him to settle a lawsuit filed by is ex-wife.

    Martorano also said he received $70,000 for a book written by radio personality Howie Carr, as well as $250,000 for movie rights. If a movie about his life is made, Martorano would receive an additional $250,000 plus more if it is successful. He admitted that he did not give money to the victims' families, claiming he was taking care of his family.

    During redirect, the prosecution said they wanted to focus on Martorano's relationship with Bulger. They then went down a list of murders, asking Martorano if he and Mr. Bulger were involved in all of them. Martorano said yes.

    The prosecution also asked Martorano if Bulger admitted he murdered Brian Halloran and Buddy Leonard. Martorano again said yes.

    Testimony ended Wednesday with Boston Police Cold Case Sgt. William Doogan who retrieved evidence in eight different murders related to the Bulger trial from the police archive. Doogan, who said he was not involved in the investigations into the murders, went through crime scene photos from each of the eight murders and confirmed them. Many of them depicted victims' cars with their windows shot out.

    During Doogan's testimony, jurors were shown images of the bodies of Buddy Leonard and Ed Connors. Earlier in the day, Judge Denise Casper denied a motion filed by the defense requesting gruesome images of Leonard and Connors be excluded from the trial amid claims that they were unfairly prejudicial.

    Relatives of some of the victims are expected to testify Thursday.

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