Hank Brennan Takes It to Martorano

brennanNo more Mr Wiseguy — no more skirting around the edges  — we’re starting to see the real John Martorano for what he is a person who described himself on 60 minutes as a vigilante being force to admit there was little vigilantism in him but sheer mindless murder.

Brennan started in on him and kept his voice calm, a quality I first noticed in him when he stood up to the Magistrate the first time I attended these hearing, and insistently bored away at Martorano making sure he got the answers he wanted. No more avoidance, Brennan nailed him down. No Florida lawyer who defended Connolly who said he was intimidated by Martorano, Brennan is standing tall and firing away at him.

He started with the 50,000 Martorano received after the hit on Wheeler. He then had him talk about being a hit man and why he didn’t like that name but asked him what difference there was between being a hitman and what he did. Martorano didn’t explain leaving it that there was none. Brennan then said on 60 Minutes Martorano didn’t think the term mass murderer fit him so he asked whether serial killer was appropriate. Martorano’s attempts to explain how he wasn’t one of these seemed to fall flat and the jury could decide for itself whether these description fit him.

Martorano went on to explain those people kill for fun or money and he wasn’t like that because he “didn’t get any joy out of killing people . . .or any satisfaction.” Brennan came back at him and said then why are you bragging about the murders in your book and why is he selling the movie right to it.

The odd thing is — and I guess you have to be a gangster to figure it out — is that Martorano kept saying “I was risking my life” when I murdered the people as if he was doing a noble deed.  He’d be asked later about it and he said there was “honor and integrity” in what he was doing in killing people. No one would buy it.

He told how he was taught by his father and by “the priests and nuns” that Judas was the worst person in the world. This he explained let him see himself as ridding the world of many Judases. Apparently we are to believe these killings had some type of imprimatur from the Church or at least that Martorano was following one of the 10 Commandments given to Moses, that  of honoring one’s parents.

We turned to the Smith murder where Martorano murdered Smith, a 19-year-old girl, and a 17-year-old boy. On direct examination he said he could not tell who they were because they wore hoods; Brennan was able to have him admit that they weren’t wearing hoods. Martorano then talked about them being silhouettes. He said when he got in the back seat of that car that was all he saw and he fired first at Smith and he held up his index finger as if it were a gun and pointed to his left and moved it as if he fired a bullet. He then said everything was a blur and he just fired at the other two, moving his index finger as if doing it.  Martorano said he felt bad after doing that but Brennan pointed out he felt so bad that he was immediately planning to kill someone else.

Brennan did superb job showing the story Martorano told about stabbing a guy to defend himself and then taking into his car to get medical attention was sheer nonsense. He puts two knives in Martorano’s possession and none on the other guy who was smaller than Martorano when Martorano first stabs the guy in the chest.  He blew away the medical attention story when he had Martorano admit he wanted to get the guy away from the scene so he wouldn’t be connected to him.  He asked why he stabbed him again in the car and it boiled down to he didn’t like him “mouthing off.”  So Brennan said you stab people who you don’t like mouthing off?

He also asked Martorano how many times he stabbed him Martorano answering “two three or four.”  Brennan said the autopsy said he was stabbed twenty times. He asked Martorano if he saw anyone come up the street after he threw him out of the car and begin to stab him. His point was well made and he went through the stabbing story so it will stick in the jurors minds.

Brennan said Martorno testified yesterday his heart was broken when he learned Whitey and Stevie were informants. He asked if it was broken thinking of the parents of the 17-year-old boy and 19-year-old girl or any of his other victims.  It presented a picture of a man who says words that have no meaning.

He asked how Tony Veranis got the pistol whipped marks on his body if he was shot once; Martorano made a gesture with his hand coming down saying I might have hit him on the head with my pistol when I shot him.

Early on Brennan made a point that Martorano never wanted to be blamed for his murders. It was a good point because Martorano was always suggesting he had no choice but to murder people to help out his friends or because others asked him to do it.  Brennan kept sliding in and out bringing up Martorano’s lying and his telling other people to lie.

He ended by putting to rest the idea that all Martorano was facing was a few years in prison when he decided to cooperate. He had Martorano agree that he could have been in prison the rest of his life if he didn’t try to get a deal for himself. It was a satisfying way to end the day.

It was good we don’t have to pretend that Martorano is other than a person who murders others for no good reason, is willing to lie for any purpose, and that there was nothing noble in his coming forward to cooperate with the government.

Tomorrow more good stuff. Wyshak keeps trying to interrupt Brennan but Judge Casper is rightfully letting him go after Martorano.



  1. Wow. All this Bulger talk reminds me of the book, BAD LIKE JESSE JAMES, about another badass who back in the 70s ran Detroit’s heroin trade, plotted to rob a Brinks truck and threatened to blow up Detroit airport (among other things) and – oh yeah, he was a fed! An ATF agent!

  2. Matt,
    Great reporting as usual. Might be a dumb question, but is Zip Connolly going to be called to testify? And if not, why?
    You have mentioned that there is a list of people who are expected to testify – where can I find that list?
    Any action/reaction from whitey yesterday (tuesday) during the cross examination of Gucci ? Haha, that name fits him perfectly! What about Billy and Jackie Bulger, are they present everyday?
    Thanks for your time and all the best! I am addicted to this blog btw……… So thank you.

    • SJM,

      To make you feel better I’ll ask a dumber question. Isn’t there a Statute of Limitations on drugs and gambling? Why is Whitey being charged sixteen years later? I’m sure any one of your readers are able to answer since many seem to have law backgrounds.

      • Question:

        Good question but the indictments were brought 16 years ago when the conspiracy and combination were still hot.

    • SJM

      Zip’s out – will only contradict Whitey’s defense and Wyshak would not go near him. The list is part of these comments. Put in the search box for commments the name ‘Attardo’ and you’ll see it.
      No reaction from Whitey. Surprised me. Jackie is showing up. I talked to him briefly a couple of days ago. Billy has yet to appear.

      Thanks for sticking with it.

  3. Matt,

    This is an insignificant matter, but did Martorano testify that he presently lives in Cambridge? Most media have reported this week he lives in Cambridge, but Fox 25 reports that he lives in Milford, MA with a woman and two lap dogs. The neighbors in Milford confirmed it. (Link below)
    Maybe the court even allowed him to fib for his own safety. There are, after all, some real vigilantes out there.
    Was Howie Carr a little humbler in court since his boy Johnny was getting crushed?
    I’d be remiss not to write that Matt accurately describes Brennan’s formidable trial skills. Brennan is fearless and incisive. Of all the lawyers Sickle Cell Martorano has faced so far, none have layed a glove on him until now. He can’t be sleeping well tonight knowing what awaits him in the courtroom tomorrow.
    Martorano can only hope it will be over fast and not continue on for another day. I’m rather enjoying this so I’d like Martorano to stay on the stand all week. Wyshak’s redirect should be a well choreographed but unsuccessful effort to pick his fighter up off the canvas.


    • Patty:

      He said he was born in Cambridge. He didn’t say where he lived. I didn’t see Howie today in court. He might have been in the main courtroom, I’m in the overflow room. Howie’s in love and will never accept his partner was crushed, or I should say he’ll never let the readers know.

      Your right about Brennan. I saw him argue motions but had no idea of his cross-examinatin skills so I was holding my breath. I didn’t have to hold it long when he started right after him with what kind of murderer does he call himself.

      I’m hoping it goes into Thursday. If Wyshak redirects it’ll show he lacks fundamental trial skills. It’ll just give Brennan the chance to pick up any scraps he may have left on the table. Saw Marty Weinberg who said he watched a little of Brennan and liked what he saw.

  4. Would never purchase anymore of Carr’s trash. I would like to thank you Matt for putting up that Salemme testimony that probably makes up a lot of that book he is trying to pump now about Flemmi. I even recognize some testimony that he put in The Brothers Bulger, It seems it is just more recycled gossip from documents that the average person does not have access to.

    • Doubting:

      Can’t figure out what next book Carr will foist upon the public but he has a good racket going with them. Maybe he can team up with Charlie Manson.

  5. Good comments. I agree with all four. The question is how did Wyshak, Durham, Kelly believe this scum serial killer coward Martorano and how does Carr, the BU professors and Hollywood moguls sleep at night making money off this mass murdering coward? Peter Gelzinis lied again today claiming Martorano’s testimony “12 years ago” helped put John Connolly in jail. The fact is the Federal jury in Boston did not believe one word spoken by the evil killer Martorano and rejected his claims outright. Matt, Brennan sounds like a heavyweight champion of a defense counsel: He won’t let Martorano get off the ropes and keeps knocking him down. Good for him

    • William:

      I suppose we always knew that the people you mentioned other than the prosecutors have no God other than money. The prosecutors believe they are doing right. It is right that Whitey be prosecuted for he is probably not as bad as Martorano or Flemmi but nearly as bad. Wyshak gets carried away with himself at time. Kelly seems like he’s level headed. Durham I don’t know much about but he did try an effective case. I disagree with their theory of events so it is hard for me to accept some of the things they do but I don’t attribute a sinister motive to them..They have felt the sting of a guy like Martorano who only loves himself and would betray them at a moment’s notice. They are stuck with him and I’m not sure they like it but need him to hook Whitey in to some of the murders although it is doubtful the jury will believe him. They made a bad deal but are stuck with it. They were out foxed but have to make the best of what they have. They can’t walk away from prosecuting Whitey nor would I want them to do nor should any other persono. We have to keep in mind these vile men were Whitey’s closest friends. Hopefully people will began to recognize Martorano and his co-author for what they are.

      Gelzinis is a big anti-Bulger writer who wrote some pretty bad stuff about Billy Bulger and John Connolly during his trial. Read all the columnists with the idea they are perpetuting a false story into which they have all bougth into. Let’s hope Brennan has the stamina to keep it up for the full 15 rounds.

  6. I feel like a semi-dirt bag for even purchasing that HITMAN book considering now how much money this guy has made. But it does help you find the lies through his testimony now, which is molded by Wyshak. Wyshak would of have had to fix any lies or contradictions in the book that would question the validity of his testimony today. Anything not fixed or cleared up is just ”blame Howie Carr”. Another real creep with the spine of a flea.

    • Doubting:
      I also bought it. Feel the same way. Wyshak had to be very upset when he came out with it. It’s taken a lot of work to have Johnny keep in line with the book. I’m hoping Hank Brennan goes over it with him. Let him blame Howie and then bring Howie in to blame John. I’m at a loss when I see all the media types sucking up to Howie, who someone described as the media queen, knowing he partnered with Martorano to make money. I feel dirty anywhere near either one of them. We’ve got twenty dead human beings (I knew three of them) who were murdered and we have to hear this man tell how they were all justifiable. At least this time I didn’t go home feeling sick because I heard him before at the Connolly trial. I’m not sure how I’ll feel when Flemmi testifies.

  7. Not to belabor the point, but meanwhile, a former FBI agent who never pulled a trigger is doing 40 years while Murderman walks free. Just astounding…

    • “Not to belabor the point, but meanwhile, a former FBI agent who never pulled a trigger is doing 40 years while Murderman walks free. Just astounding…”

      I agree and I don’t get that either. If I were on the jury and heard this I don’t know if I’d be able to refrain from standing up and voicing my opinion on that. I also found it ridiculous when one of the Feds blamed Whitey for “corrupting the FBI and police”. They’d end up throwing me off the jury. This guy Martorano makes me sick and I don’t even know much about him. How long do you expect this trial to last Matt?

      • Question:

        Wyshak blames Connolly’s problems on him “becoming too close to the Bulgers and Southie.” The people who corrupted the FBI is the FBI when it partnered with criminals and it is still corrupt because it continues to do the same thing. We don’t know how many Martoranos are walking free because of the FBI.

        Who would you fell safer taking on in an argument: John Connolly or John Martorano. The wrong guy is in jail. No one seems to care. Connolly is no saint and I’m no fan of his but after 25 years of basically unblemished FBI service to have him die in jail is outrageous.

        The trial is going very slowly – we are only on the fifth witness – too many long bench conferences over nothing issues – the judge has to become more decisive to move it along – the prosecutors are adamant on winning every little point insisting on redirect examination which follows by recross – most are of esoteric points which are forgotten by the end of the day by the jurors. Unless the lawyers step back and come up with a strategy – which I don’t see yet – the case will eat up the summer and possiby the football season — my wife’s being a good sport about this but if they go on too long I’m in deep trouble – so I’m hoping they speed up but I must keep in mind Whitey wants this to never end.

        I should mention I saw the spectacle of his six car escort going back to the Plymouth house of corrections. This whole thing shows how out of control our federal system is that they have five or six cars racing up and down Route 3 every court day when they should be housing him at a secure facility in Boston. The more I see of the federal system the more I want to scream.

    • Jon:

      Never mind never pulled a trigger, was acquitted the first time he was charged with the offense that got him 40 years.

  8. you make me hate this guy wyshak he seems like he’ll do anything to win and just a weasel. I bet he writes a book, all these guys are so full of themselves. he would never be great criminal defense lawyer, needs to much help.

    • Pat:
      Wyshak developed a theory of the case almost twenty years ago and whatever helped prove his theory he was willing to give whatever it took to get it even dealing with a guy like Martorano. He’s a big feeling guy who walks to the beat of his own drummer using federal power to crush people as he has done with the probation officers who he charged with RICO.