Before talking about the murders Whitey stands indicted for, I want to set the stage upon which the evidence will be heard. It is in the courtroom where the battle will take place. Fred Wyshak will be leading the government’s case; J.W.Carney for the defense. I will assume that you have a jury where none of the members have heard of Whitey Bulger. The jury will see that Carney is defending an elderly 83 year-old slimmed down, harmless, Santa Clause-looking guy in a nice suit and tie sitting benignly at counsel table next to him. Looking at them, they could very well be father and son. Keep that picture in your mind as I discuss the evidence of the murders.
The only witness the feds have to the first seven murders charged against Whitey is Johnny Martorano. Johnny looks like the idea we all have of a heartless murderer: pasta puffed belly, $900 Gucci alligator loafers, silk wise-guy shirt and tie, Mafia-type pin stripe suit, greasy swept died-back hair, sun glasses, fat hands, hardness to his face, his aspect reflects the prototypical Hollywood gangster reeking of corruption, .
According to Howie Carr in his book the lawyer representing FBI Agent John Connolly in Florida said he was intimidated by him. He whispered, “It feels scary when you are close to him.” You can take the gangster off the street but you can’t take the gangster out of a gangster. Before he opens his mouth each juror who’s heard he’s a gangster will have no doubt about it.
They will have heard the governments opening statement telling how evil that old man sitting next to Carney is but their eyes will tell a different story. They’ll hear about Martorano in J.W. Carney’s opening. To fix what he says in their minds, I expect Carney will be waving in his hand the book Hitman. He’ll tell the jury the government’s top witness against his man calls himself the Hitman. He’ll quote from the sub-title where it is written, “the most feared gangster in the underworld.” He might read a quote or two from the book. He’ll say, “the government case depends on the worst of the worst. You can’t sink any lower. You might as well be listening to Charles Manson.”
Wyshak will speed Martorano through his direct testimony. He’ll talk quickly about the people he killed before he met Whitey — he won’t be able to blame Whitey for those. He’ll tell about those he killed when Whitey was with him, and those he killed when he says Whitey asked him to kill them. Martorano will do this in a matter of fact way. He could just as well be talking about last week’s Patriot’s game for all it affects him. What’s one life or the other, after all, I’m the Hitman. I can kill whoever I can sneak up on. The jurors will look at him with disgust as he recites the litany of his murders.
Then they will hear about the deal he got. They’ll hear for each of the murders he did about six months in an easy prison in Florida and received money from the feds whenever he wanted it; they’ll hear he forfeited nothing and hid everything; that he agreed to testify against people he didn’t know which he passes off in his book as a big joke; they’ll hear how he said his lawyer outsmarted the feds; they’ll look and see this man with all the blood on his hands dressed to the nines without one ounce of remorse. And they’ll hear the government attorney tell them they should believe what he says when deep inside all they will want to do is to get away from him as fast as they can, not so much because of fear, but because he makes them ill.
They’ll feel sick to their stomachs before the cross-examination starts when J.W. Carney holds up the book and says, “Is this your book?” Martorano will start to dissemble and put the blame on Howie who’ll be a defense witness. Dodging won’t work too well with Carney, he’s been in these fights before. He’ll get him to own it. He’ll get him to accept that he thinks he’s the most feared gangster in the underworld. He’ll get him to name the people in the crimes with him who he tried to hide in his books.
Unlike the other lawyers who had Martorano on cross-examination, Carney has Martorano’s book. He’ll have him explain why he shot Bobby Pallidino in the back of the head. Johnny in his book said Bobby shot at the driver of his car first and missed but that won’t last long with Carney. He knows at the John Connolly trial he said Pallidino showed up to talk to him and pulled a gun but he wasn’t as quick as he was. Nothing about the car. The car story was probably thrown in because Pallidino was shot in the back of the head not like he said at the Connolly trial story where he pulled the gun in front of him.
Next Carney will talk to him about how Tony Veranis got shot in the back of the head when he allegedly was standing in front of him and pulled a gun on him. Johnny will also be asked about his testimony at the trial of John Connolly where he said Tony was bragging about beating up his brother. He went to see him and at an after-hours club Tony pulled a gun on him but “Tony was another guy I was faster than.”
(The trial testimony of the Connolly case is in my book Don’t Embarrass The Family just released by Amazon.)
Johnny in his book has a different story. Johnny’s out with his friend around 3:00 a.m. and Tony “loaded, blind drunk” came up to him and said, “I’m Tony Veranis. . .I just had a beef with your friend. I kicked him outta Southie with his tail between his legs. . . .” (Pretty silly talk for a hood, “tail between his legs”, oh, well) Tony then pulls a gun but Johnny beat him to it. Howie writes, “Taller than Veranis, he fired down, into the ex-boxer’s skull.” The big problem with the story is Johnny wasn’t taller than Tony and the bullet is in the back of Tony’s head when says Tony pulled a gun in front of him.
Martorano’s in his first two killings changes the story, has people pulling guns on him, yet they’re shot in the back of the head. What do you think J.W. Carney is going to do just with these two stories where he tells one story at Connolly’s trial, another in his book, and who knows how many others in the discovery the feds gave him.
Connolly’s lawyer in Florida may have been intimidated by Martorano and thrown in the towel. But this isn’t Florida. Tracy Miner in Boston wasn’t intimidated. The little that I’ve heard about J.W. Carney you can bet he won’t be. And Carney has ten times the ammunition of Miner who had no trouble convincing her jury that Martorano is a cowardly liar. Within the first fifteen minutes of cross-examination by Carney, the jurors will absolutely hate Martorano and probably the government for making such a low life part of its team.
Tomorrow the individual murders.