Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

At Bulger trial, talk of honor among gangsters

BOSTON — "Family and friends come first," John Martorano, an aging gangster known as the Executioner, declared from the witness stand Tuesday.

"My father always taught me that. The priests and the nuns I grew up with taught me that. They taught me that Judas — Judas was the worst person in the world."

Just a few days into testimony at one of the most sensational criminal trials in this city's history, it is clear that something more is at stake than the racketeering and murder charges in the 32-count indictment against James "Whitey" Bulger, the notorious ruler of Boston's underworld in the 1970s and '80s.

The trial has focused in its early days on the criminals' concepts of honor and loyalty, codes they say they lived by.

Martorano, who has confessed to 20 murders, took offense at being called a "mass murderer," did not like the term "hit man" and rejected the label "serial killer." He preferred the term "vigilante," seeing in it the noble pursuit of protecting friends and family, especially if they were being hurt or double-crossed or could be hurt or double-crossed.

"Is there any honor or integrity in what you did?" Martorano was asked under relentless cross-examination Tuesday by Henry Brennan, a defense lawyer.

"I thought so," Martorano, 72, replied. "I thought both. I didn't like risking my life, but I thought if the reason was right, I'd try."

That concept of honor has been a subtext of this trial since it opened last week. Bulger's lead lawyer, J.W. Carney, took the unusual tack of acknowledging that his client was guilty of several charges against him, including drug dealing and loan-sharking. But, the lawyer insisted, Bulger, 83, was never an FBI informant, as the prosecution alleges. Nor, he said, did Bulger kill the two women on the list of 19 homicides he is accused of participating in. The code prohibits the killing of women.

With an aggressive cross-examination, the defense hopes to discredit Martorano, who served 12 years in prison after he cut a deal with prosecutors and agreed to testify against Bulger, who fled Boston in 1994 and was arrested in 2011.

At Bulger trial, talk of honor among gangsters 06/18/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 12:38am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Baker lowers expectations for primary

    Blogs

    Rick Baker officially lowered expectations Tuesday, saying his “battle for the future of the city” against Mayor Rick Kriseman might last until November.

    Rick Baker addresses supporters on Beach Drive Tuesday
  2. Former Sen. Greg Evers, advocate for law enforcement, dead at 62.

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Former State Sen. Greg Evers, the Baker Florida strawberry farmer and veteran politician, was killed in a single car crash hear his home in Okaloosa County. The Florida Highway Patrol confirmed the death late Tuesday, but deferred any further information pending an investigation. He was 62.

    Former Florida Senator Greg Evers, R- Milton, was a passionate advocate for law enforcement and corrections officers. He was found dead Tuesday afternoon in a car crash. He was 62. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  3. Polk sheriff: Gibsonton man sent child porn to Bay News 9 anchor

    Crime

    A 20-year-old Gibsonton man was indicted on federal charges after authorities said he repeatedly sent child pornography to a news anchor for Bay News 9.

    Marchaun Browning, 20 of Gibsonton, was indicted on federal charges, accused of sending child pornography to a news anchor for Bay News 9 using Twitter. [Courtesy of Polk County Sheriff's Office]
  4. 5 things to do under $5: Type artists, shuffleboard, toy train show, Wildflower Walk

    Events

    1 Letterheads Typefest: The muralists who run Illsol Space, a gallery in Tampa Heights, said their respect for handmade fonts and sign painting techniques moved them to curate this exhibit featuring type-based muralists, hand-style lettering designers, sign painters, letterpress studios and type designers. …

    Colm O’Connor, a Dublin sign writer, is among the 22 artists featured in the Letterheads Typefest exhibit at the Illsol Space gallery.
  5. Foundation Partners buys Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home

    Business

    ST. PETERSBURG — Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home, the Tampa Bay area's largest family-owned funeral company, has been sold.

    Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home, the Tampa Bay area's largest family-owned funeral company, has been sold.
[CHRIS URSO   |   Times]