Coyne: Could have gotten Rakes held in contempt of court for showing jurors material not in evidence

artThursday, July 25, 2013

By:Laurel J. Sweet, Gary J. RemalThe circumstances of his death a week ago at the pinnacle of a mob trial he’d waited 29 years for isn’t the only riddle Stephen “Stippo” Rakes took to the grave.

Margaret Small of Cambridge, a courtroom sketch artist at the trial of James “Whitey” Bulger, said Rakes, 59, an alleged extortion victim, commissioned a stark design of the silhouettes of Bulger with his brother William “Billy” Bulger, the former state Senate president, behind him and the words “I’ve got your back.”

Small said Rakes planned to hold the piece up on the witness stand — a move Michael Coyne, associate dean at the Massachusetts School of Law, told the Herald could have gotten Rakes held in contempt of court for showing jurors material not in evidence.

The day before his body was discovered on the side of a road in Lincoln on July 17, Rakes learned he wouldn’t be called to testify.

“It was weighing on my mind that I didn’t want to give it to him. I felt too uncomfortable about it,” Small said. She never got a chance to tell Rakes.

Small decided to share Rakes’ vision because, “I thought at least I should honor his wish.”

Yesterday, mourners lined up at the William F. Spencer Funeral Home in South Boston to say goodbye to Rakes.

“He was one of the best,” Raymond Muise of Dorchester said of Rakes. “There’s something wrong. … It’s strange what happened to him.”

Rakes’ family largely declined to speak about him, except for a cousin who called him a great man.

“He lived for his family,” he said. “He was very good to myself and the rest of the people around him, and he worked hard all his life.”

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