I can’t say it was a good week for the prosecutors. Not that it could have been when you are relying on a guy who murdered — I wish defense counsel had not said to Martorano the word “killed” rather than “murdered” — to make the case for the first group of murders and the ones surrounding Wheeler. The problem with all of it is that the person who pulled the trigger on the machine guns or revolvers and actually doing the murders is the guy testifying and who is walking the street and publishing books and getting movie royalties while he brags about his murders.
Reading the recent filing by Whitey’s lawyer’s J.W. Carney and Hank Brennan I see that some of the questions that have puzzled me which are being discussed between persons who have commented at my blog home site and myself are being brought forth for discussion and resolution.
These questions relate to prosecutors, the payments they give to their witnesses to testify, and to their knowledge of the truthfulness of their testimony.
The prosecutors sit down with gangsters they jam in like Weeks, Flemmi, Morris or Salemme and say we’d like you to give us information on someone, in this case it was Whitey Bulger. The gangster will say “what will you give me?” The prosecutors respond, “tell me what you have on Whitey and we’ll see what we can do.” Obviously the better the information the better the deal. The gangster then gives the information in what is called a proffer. Then the bargaining begins. The more the gangster offers the more the prosecution will do for him. Some bargaining takes quite a while It took a year before the prosecutors could come up with enough goodies to get information from Murderman Martorano.
Here’s what we knew from the Connolly trial and from the books the Kevin Weeks has written. Weeks was the lookout for Whitey when they drove down to the waterfront in South Boston on May 11, 1982 to murder Brian Halloran and Michael Donahue. Whitey was driving what he called the tow truck which was a souped up car with some James Bond gadgets that went 150 mph if need be. In the back seat of the car was a man who would participate with Whitey in spraying bullets at Halloran and Donohue. This man waved at Weeks at one point but Weeks did not know him because the man was wearing a ski mask. Afterwards, Weeks never learned or bothered to inquire who his co-felon in the murder was, a person that could send him to prison for life.
Amy Bishop was convicted of three murders. She will spend the rest of her life in prison. I don’t think there are many people who believe that is not a fair sentence. John Salvi convicted of the killings at the abortion clinics in Brookline likewise received life without parole. Marianne Kosilek convicted of killing her wife and Dirk Greineder the Wellesley physician likewise convicted of killing his wife are looking at the same fate. There are all those youth caught up in the violence of the drug wars who are involved in one murder who will die in jail. I could go on and on about this.
Gangster Thursday is a good day to talk about Howard Carr’s big buddy John Martorano. Martorano is walking the street after having murdered twenty persons. People who kill that many people usually are called serial murderers and locked up for life. In Texas and Florida people are executed for killing one or two people.
We like to be different in Massachusetts. We extol serial murderers. Carr the afternoon radio talk host who has nothing good to say about most people in the public sector writes a hymn of praise to Martorano suggesting that the man is brave and virtuous.
How is it that a serial murderer walks around like nothing happened? The Justice Department attorneys indicate that Martorano deserved special treatment because he told how he killed the people and this was something we would not have known. We are supposed to be thankful because he did this?
Billy Bulger in While the Music Lasts railed at the government’s ability to buy testimony. He said about the evidence against Whitey that “all of the evidence has been purchased.” (His emphasis.) He said people say things about Whitey because it gives them a “get out of jail card.” He wrote people have been offered, “Inducements more precious than money – release from prison, the waiver of criminal charges. . . .”
Billy pointed out that the American Bar Association’s Model Code of Professional Responsibility states: “A lawyer shall not pay, offer to pay, or acquiesce in the payment of compensation to a witness contingent upon the content of his testimony or the outcome of the case.”
Billy recognized that prosecutors are exempt from that general rule but suggested it is unfair when other lawyers are barred from doing this.