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Whitey Bulger trial opens with startling statement from defense (+video)

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First, it’s an effort cast doubt on law-enforcement witnesses, by suggesting that it was only through rampant corruption that Bulger was able to avoid indictment for so long.

Second, the defense will seek to dismantle the credibility of Bulger’s former colleagues as witnesses. (Carney implied that they’ve lightened their own punishments by being ready to tell lies about Bulger and his former FBI handler, John Connolly.)

Third, Carney appears set to cast Bulger as a bad guy, but not that bad a guy – not guilty, for instance, of all 19 alleged murders.

If successful, that defense could not only lighten Bulger’s sentence but perhaps keep alive some fragment of the legend – once believed by some locals – that he was a kind of Robin Hood gangster, looking out for his community even as he profited from its seamier side.

Carney said in his opening remarks that Bulger was not an informant, and that he is not guilty of killing the two women listed by prosecutors among the alleged murder victims.

For the prosecution, however, the case is all about bringing to justice the alleged leader of a major crime ring, who reaped his millions through a reign of terror.

“At the center of all this murder and mayhem is one man – the defendant in this case,” Mr. Kelly of Boston’s US Attorney’s office said, at the start of what’s expected to be a months-long trial.

He sketched some of the vivid and gruesome details the prosecution will present in making its case.

Kelly alleged that Bulger shot one victim in the back of the head – after mining him for information about rival criminals and taking $50,000 of his money – and then sat on a couch while associates buried the man in a residential basement.

Kelly said one witness and former Bulger associate recalls moving three decaying corpses from the house basement to be buried in a field – on Halloween of all nights – so the house could be sold.

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