Maybe I should start at close to the end. Just before we learned Whitey’s decision someone in the press overflow room said, “how about a poll? How many think he will testify?” About 2/3 of the room of at least 50 reporters raised their hands. “Who thinks he won’t?” About 1/4 put up their hands. The remaining 10%, myself included, kept our hands down.
By the time the decision was about to be announced whether Whitey would testify or not, I was 50/50. Last weekend I was 100% certain he would testify. Then came the crack in the wall of certitude which came about on Tuesday when I spoke to the man. By yesterday still believing he would testify. I wrote how it would be a major mistake. I’ve heard Whitey has access to this blog but I do not claim credit for persuading him not to take the stand even though the decision was not made until just before it was announced.
Carney had taken over the case by this point. Hank Brennan stepped back and let the master of drama play out the remaining final minutes. Carney seemed to love it first asking whether the judge wanted a bench conference. We had to wait a little longer. I said to someone that it was like waiting for the OJ verdict but in this case we already know what the verdict is going to be. Finally the side bar ended and Carney stood up and said a few words and then said the defense rests.
I had already prepared a tweet and was ready to hit the tweet button but I first had to backspace over the letters, in order, d-a-e-h, and type in t-a-i-l. I then tweeted the following: “Coin is flipped and spins through the air. Heads he testifies! Tails he doesn’t! It lands – everyone stares at it – it is tails!”
That tells me I wanted him to testify and knowing he wasn’t I felt a little let down. It was offset by the idea I’d be able to get of the court early on Friday and get out of the city. I’m still trying to process it.
Today I was studying all the signs. First I wanted to see how he dressed. He was in a black long sleeve shirt and his black jeans. Those weren’t testifying clothes. I watched him interact with Brennan. I watched as he was whispering to him holding a yellow pad up to his mouth to cover his words like you see football coaches do to their quarterback. What was the big secret? Was he going over some testimony?
I had another person who I had known for a long time who was there and was going to be in the courtroom. She was an experienced trial lawyer and has excellent instincts. I asked her to tell me what she thought. She was pretty sure he was going to testify. The morning went slowly.
The first witness was an elderly woman who worked for the FBI for 62 1/2 years, starting there during the presidency of “Give ’em Hell, Harry.” She was on the stand for 62 1/2 minutes which seemed like 62 1/2 years. This had become the routine for witnesses called by the defense spending five times longer testifying than necessary with both sides trying to get in the last word over something the jurors forgot by the time the next witness was sworn in. But one thing we always know, if Flemmi’s name is mentioned the prosecutions last question on re-cross will be: “And isn’t it true that Mr. Flemmi’s partner is James Bulger?”
I’ll tell you this, if I were a juror and Wyshak acted so condescenly to me as if at this late stage of the trial I had to keep hearing him repeat that and then watch him walking triumphantly back to his seat as if he had made a brilliant point, I’d find my worst enemy not guilty just to kick back at him.
After Helen Gandy came a reading by Carney of some particularly telling testimony by Marion Hussey of how her daughter accused Steven Flemmi of repeatedly forcing her to have oral sex for years and how she tossed him out of the house. When Carney ended I was surprised that Wyshak did not hold up the paper Carney read from and ask it who was Flemmi’s partner.
The last witness Murderman John, dressed in a suit, an open shirt, and silk lapel handkerchief, plunked himself into the witness chair and told us that Flemmi told him he accidentally strangled Debbie Davis. Guess what question Wyshak asked him just before he stepped down.
My friend came back and told me the jury was riveted to the reading of Marion Hussey’s testimony by Carney, who as I said really is good at dramatics. I’d guess Whitey wins on the cases involving the women, there has to be reasonable doubt. If he does, that will be a big loss for the prosecution.
She also said both of the defense and prosecution back benches were crowded with people from their offices. I said that definitely shows that Whitey will testify, the crowd didn’t come to hear the first three witnesses and being from the offices of the lawyers they would have a good inside view of what will happen. But I was talking to another woman who sat behind me and she wanted to know who was in the Bulger family seats. I recognized no one which gave me pause since Jackie who had been there just about every day was not present. That mean he wouldn’t testify.
Back and forth I guessed at what would happen until I found out. The judge asked Whitey three questions: if he knew what he was doing, if he had good legal help, and if he was pleading voluntarily.
To the latter he said no, the trial’s a sham, it wasn’t fair, I couldn’t put in my defense of immunity which was given to me to protect the prosecutor’s life, do with me what you like. In other words, humbug on your justice system.
His decision was not well received in the media room or on the prosecution side. With that I hurried out of the courtroom.