After nine weeks of hearing testimonies from more than 70 witnesses during the trial, James “Whitey” Bulger was found guilty of 31 of the 32 counts brought against him.
Now, Bulger could face life plus 30 years or life plus 35 years in prison, prosecutors said at the John Joseph Moakley Courthouse on Tuesday.
“The court’s heard the evidence,” said prosecutor Brian Kelly. “The facts are pretty atrocious. We know what we’re going to recommend [on how much time to serve in prison].”
As The Daily Free Press previously reported, Bulger was convicted on Aug. 12 of 11 of the 19 murders he allegedly committed as a former mob boss of the Winter Hill Gang during the 1970s and 1980s. He was found not guilty on seven murder charges and made no finding in one of them.
Kelly said family members of all 19 victims want to submit victim impact statements and 14 relatives want to speak at the sentencing hearing.
J.W. Carney, Bulger’s attorney, said he would file a written response in court to the request of the victim’s families.
Judge Denise Casper did not immediately rule on the request, but said everyone who will be allowed to speak will get five to 10 minutes to talk about the victim and the loss they suffered.
“I understand, inevitably, it will be very difficult for the family members to speak to their loss, their sadness, and yes, their anger,” she said.
Carney said Bulger, who was not present in court, waived his right to attend the hearing.
He said he would not comment on whether Bulger plans to make a statement during his sentencing hearing and on what sentences he plans to recommend to the prosecution.
“As of right now, I don’t know what his decision will be,” Carney told reporters.
Bulger decided not to testify during his nine-week trial, calling the trial a “sham,” because he was not allowed to use the claim that he received immunity for his crimes decades ago by now-deceased federal prosecutor Jeremiah O’Sullivan, as reported by The Daily Free Press on May 2. Prosecutors said they would speak for about an hour during the sentence hearing and the defense said they would take 30 minutes.
Casper said she would hear arguments and testimony from victims’ families and hand down the sentence the following day. She said victims should refrain from angry outbursts and remember they are in a court.
Carney said in a statement on Tuesday that Bulger is preparing himself for the sentence hearing.
“[He] is at peace within himself,” he said. “He has now concluded going to trial. He’s frustrated that he wasn’t able to present the full defense that he wanted to and he recognizes that there will be a very emotional sentencing hearing ahead, and he’s preparing himself for it.”
Bulger, 84, was captured by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in 2011 in Santa Monica, Calif. He was on the run for 16 years. Once he was caught, he was convicted on charges of racketeering, extortion, money laundering and weapons charges during his time as mob boss of the Winter Hill Gang in South Boston.
Bulger’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Nov. 13.