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August 5, 2013

Lengthy closing arguments in store at Bulger trial

BOSTON — Closing arguments are underway in reputed Boston ganster James "Whitey" Bulger's racketeering trial.

After two months of testimony, prosecutor Fred Wyshak started presenting his closing arguments Monday morning.

Wyshak gets 2 hours and 45 minutes for his arguments before the defense gets to present its case. Then Wyshak gets 30 more minutes for rebuttal.

He told jurors that Bulger was "one of the most vicious, violent and calculating criminals ever to walk the streets of Boston."

Bulger fled Boston in 1994. He was one of the nation's most-wanted fugitives until he was captured in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2011.

He's pleaded not guilty to participating in 19 murders, including that of John McIntyre, a mechanic on the Gloucester-based fishing vessel Valhalla, laundering money and committing weapons offenses and other crimes.

Bulger, 83, is accused of committing a the crimes while leading the Winter Hill Gang in the 1970s and '80s. He fled Boston in 1994 ahead of an indictment and was one of the FBI's most-wanted fugitives until he was captured with his longtime girlfriend in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2011.

Wyshak will have to convince the jurors they can believe at least some of the testimony of three key witnesses against Bulger, all gangsters-turned-informants who admitted committing heinous crimes, including murder, and agreed to testify against him in plea deals with prosecutors.

Defense lawyers J.W. Carney Jr. and Hank Brennan will split the defense closing argument. During the trial, they spent much of their time trying to rebut a claim from numerous prosecution witnesses that Bulger was a longtime FBI informant who ratted on the rival Mafia and people in his own gang. The defense also focused on attempting to rebut allegations that Bulger strangled two young women.

The jury is expected to begin deliberations Tuesday after receiving instructions on the law from the judge.

Bulger's girlfriend, Catherine Greig, pleaded guilty last year to charges related to helping him stay on the run for more than a decade and was sentenced to eight years in prison. She tried to have her sentenced reduced, saying people who claim their relatives were killed by Bulger shouldn't have been allowed to speak at her sentencing, but an appeals court panel found no basis to change the sentence.

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