(NECN: Alysha Palumbo, Boston) – In an explosive exchange during cross examination of Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi Tuesday, James “Whitey” Bulger’s defense attorney Hank Brennan grilled the government witness on his sexual relationship with his then girlfriend’s teenage daughter Deborah Hussey.
Flemmi insisted it was consensual, even though he was 39 or 40 and she was 17 or 18 at the time.
But when Brennan suggested it was worse to be known as a pedophile in jail than a killer, Flemmi went off.
He screamed, “I’m not a pedophile! You want to talk about pedophilia, right over there at that table,” he said pointing a finger at Bulger who shot a look at Flemmi, but seemed to use all his restraint to not react angrily.
Flemmi had earlier testified Bulger took a 16-year-old girl to Mexico but didn’t elaborate further.
Despite inconsistencies on the details, Flemmi was insistent Bulger strangled Hussey.
But Flemmi claimed he didn’t want her dead saying, “That murder would have been prevented with one word, all [Bulger] had to do was say ‘pass’ — four little letters P-A-S-S — and I would have been happy. That would have been the end of it. She’d be alive today.”
NECN legal analyst and Mass School of Law Associate Dean Michael Coyne said in spite of his weaknesses as a witness, Flemmi has been effective.
Coyne said, “I think enough of the details of what he testified matches other witnesses so that the jury is taking that and recognizing that what we’re dealing with from a personal standpoint is a really bad human being.”
Following this case closely has been the attorney who represented Frank Salemme in the late 1990’s and filed the motion that lead to the Wolf hearings, exposing FBI corruption as well as Flemmi and Bulger’s informant status.
Anthony Cardinale said at this point he doesn’t think the defense has a strategy.
Cardinale said, “They’re going off on some notion that because the FBI and the Department of Justice therefore helped his client commit all these crimes, that somehow it nullifies his guilt.”