Bulger's attorneys release photos designed to show his softer side

Thursday, August 1, 2013 - 9:00pm


BOSTON (CNN) -- Trying to show a softer, lighter side of accused killer and crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger, his defense lawyers have released photos that they say they would expect to show the jury should Bulger decide to testify.

In response to a CNN question, his lawyers acknowledged, "yes," they have prepared Bulger, 83, to take the stand as they would any other witness.

"Every criminal defendant has until the last witness is presented on the defense to make a decision as to whether he or she will testify," said the lead counsel, J. W. Carney.

Bulger, his lawyers say, is calling the shots and will make the decision Friday after the defense reads testimony from one victim's mother and then calls its last two witnesses, an FBI secretary and admitted former hitman John Martorano.

If Bulger does not testify, closing arguments will likely happen Monday.

The 20 photos, released late Wednesday, show Bulger smiling and relaxed. Described as an animal lover, he's seen separately with dogs, a goat and a parrot. In one photo he is seen posing in front of the Stanley Cup. In others, he appears smiling with girlfriend Catherine Grieg, who went into hiding with Bulger in 1995 and who was arrested with him 16 years later in 2011 living under an alias in Santa Monica, California.

One of the men featured in a photo with Bulger was identified as a defrocked, formerly high-ranking official of the Boston archdiocese, Frederick J. Ryan, according to the lawyer for two former Catholic Memorial School students who brought sexual molestation claims against the archdiocese in 2002.

Attorney Mitchell Garabedian said that one of his clients and another person who worked with Ryan identified the former vice chancellor in the photo Thursday morning, after the images became public.

Garabedian's clients' claims were acknowledged, and they received money as part of a settlement. Ryan was defrocked by the Vatican in 2006.

"If the defense were trying to show a kinder, gentler Whitey, it certainly backfired," Garabedian told CNN Thursday.

Prosecutor Fred Wyshak objected to the photos, saying, "I don't know if being an animal lover is going to salvage his reputation." Bulger laughed at the remark.

The personal photos are a stark contrast to the numerous surveillance images shown to the jury. Bulger is facing 19 counts of murder as part of a racketeering conspiracy, and 13 counts of extortion, racketeering and money-laundering.

Bulger's lawyers have called five retired FBI agents who worked in Boston during Bulger's alleged reign of terror in the late 1970s and 1980s. The defense team has repeatedly raised questions surrounding what the FBI did and did not do in investigating internal corruption and protecting confidential informants.

Former Special Agent Matthew Cronin testified Thursday about rampant leaks in the Boston office that compromised several of his cases.

Suspicion fell on Bulger's handler, agent John Connolly, currently serving 40 years for crimes relating to Bulger. Having worked in New York City, Cronin said of the Boston field office, "Here everyone was interested in everyone else's business. You learned to keep your cards close to the vest."

On cross-examination, prosecutor Brian Kelly asked Cronin, "If the FBI does a lousy job, that doesn't give a criminal the right to murder people, does it?"

Judge Denise Casper sustained the defense team's objection.

Bulger, pale with a ring of gray stubble around his balding head, sits at the defense table either staring straight ahead or hunched over a pad taking notes. His brother Jackie has been court nearly every day, sitting in the front row reserved for Bulger's family. Nephew Billy Bulger Jr., son of former Massachusetts Senate President Billy Bulger, was also in court Thursday.

Prosecutors wrapped up their case last week after calling 63 witnesses over 30 days.

Casper is reviewing the defense's motion to include an additional charge of "accessory after the fact to murder" in Bulger's final charges.


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