Brian Halloran was gunned down within a few hundred feet of the courthouse in which Whitey is now on trial. Few doubt that was the case. That was back on May 11, 1982, long before the South Boston waterfront became the Seaport District and when Northern Avenue was the main thoroughfare from there into Boston over the old draw bridge where my uncle worked as a bridge tender.
We have been told who did it. Brian Halloran and his companion Michael Donohue were gunned down by James “Whitey” Bulger and a man in a mask. We have been told that by one man, Kevin Weeks. There is no other witness to this other than Kevin.
We know Kevin has lied about the incident. I’ve pointed out that he had to have known who was invited to go to the murder with him and also he’s given two different versions of the car he was driving. Kevin’s lied about other things also, a lot more than I even know, and J.W. Carney will make that clear when he takes on Kevin.
We also know why Kevin lied. Kevin for all his bravado and toughness was afraid of doing time. You can’t go around in prison thinking you’re going to be protected by everyone’s fear of Whitey. There are thousands of Whiteys in prison, each one tougher than the next who’d like nothing better for a tough guy like Kevin to strut his stuff. Kevin suggested as much in his prior testimony when he said he’d do anything not to do hard time.
In Southie Kevin became known as Two Weeks. That’s how long it took him to start telling the prosecutor he was interested in making a deal. He was in active negotiations seeking to placate the prosecutor’s team so that if he did time, he’d be able to do easy time in one of those camps for stoolies, one of the little Ratvilles the federals maintain in the resort areas of the country.
Now don’t think Kevin’s a dummy. He’s actually very smart. Watching him testify on cross-examination I could see his mind working very actively to figure out what is the best answer to give to a question. “If I answer X, where will that take us? Or, if I say Y, what will be the result.” He’s a clever man, always scheming and conniving as befits a highly intelligent criminal mind. Every answer he gives is part of a plan.
That’s why when Kevin sat down with the prosecution team he already had a store of knowledge upon which to fashion his stories. True he failed a lie detector but after that the federals decided not to put him on the box again. Kevin would listen to the questions, figure out what the answer was the prosecutors wanted, and feed it back to them with ruffles and flourishes.
He knew, as we’d later learn from Prosecutor Wyshak who blamed Agent John Connolly’s fall on “the Bulgers and South Boston,” that the prosecution team would do just about anything to get things on the Bulgers. He had nothing to give on Billy Bulger, so that left Whitey. Kevin had been Whitey’ side-thug for years so he could give us personal insight into how he and Whitey beat up other people.
He could also put Whitey into crimes. He said Whitey and a mask man murdered Halloran. He said he was there as a lookout and tipster, he’d tell them by walkie-talkie when Halloran left the barroom. We’ve figured he put the mask on the man because he was a friend who was still alive and he didn’t want to identify him.
But there could be a more significant reason. He did it because neither he nor Whitey was there. He’d have learned there were two gunmen who murdered Halloran. That was because casings from two separate machine guns were found there and the slugs in the bodies told of two men firing. Witnesses also said there were two gunmen.
If Weeks was there, we know he’d know who else was there, whether the man was masked or not. However, if Weeks was not there, he’d have difficulty coming up with the second man. He could always add in Whitey, after all Whitey was on the lam and no one ever thought he’d be captured. But to identify the second man he’d have caused the federals to want to verify that. In doing that, the federals may have found he was lying about that man if he wasn’t there. That would cause Weeks problems. So his only alternative was to not know that man and say the other one was Whitey.
There is no proof Weeks was there other than his word. There is no proof Whitey is there other than Weeks’s word. Weeks needed to put Whitey there to get his deal. He knew he could put himself there in a more passive role almost like a bystander and he could still get the deal. Perhaps, we’ve all been wrong in accepting that Whitey murdered Halloran. That may just be another one of Weeks’s scams.
Carney’s cross-examination on this issue will tell us all we have to know about the strategic plans of the defense team. It may give us a clue as to whether Whitey will testify. We’ll be in good shape to predict the outcome of the trial when Weeks finishes.