June 18, 2013, 6:01 am
(NECN) – Former hit man John Martorano will take the stand again Tuesday in the trial of former Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger. Martorano sauntered into court in a suit, his large frame, deep voice, and cold demeanor still intimidating after all these years.
Monday was a scene out of the mob movie. As Martorano entered, his hair was slicked back, he wore sunglasses an expensive tailored suit and was ready to take the stand against his former friend Bulger. It was the first time they had seen each other in 31 years.
Martorano was on the stand to testify against Bulger for the prosecution. In fact, they were once friendly enough that Martorano named his youngest son after Bulger.
He was there to testify against James “Whitey” Bulger, a man he said he was once so close with that he named his youngest son after him.
Bulger stole a glimpse at Martorano while the government witness who’s come to be known as “The Hitman” unabashedly took in the sight of his now elderly former friend.
It had been more than three decades since the two former Winter Hill Gang members, both fugitives for 16 years, had seen each other.
“This character straight out of the Sopranos walked in in a well-tailored suit, tan, sunglasses,” said NECN legal analyst and Mass School of Law Associate Dean Michael Coyne, calling it “the most dramatic moment I’ve had in many, many trials.”
Coyne said he felt the tension in the courtroom as Martorano described his relationship with Bulger and Stephen Flemmi. “They were my partners in crime, they were my best friends, they were my children’s godfathers,” Martorano said. “After I heard they were informants, it sort of broke my heart.”
Martorano is now a cooperating witness for the government after agreeing to a plea deal that got him only 12 years in prison despite admitting to 20 murders.
He went on to recall murder after murder in cold, chilling detail, with no emotion in his voice as he described riddling cars with bullets and leaving bodies in trunks.
“What the government’s trying to do is what we call ‘draw the sting,’” Coyne said. “They need to lay out all their dirty laundry before they really can put some more meat on it – to show the jury some of what [Martorano] says is worthwhile.”
Martorano, who once testified at convicted former FBI agent John Connolly’s trial, also brought up a conversation that allegedly happened between Connolly and former Massachusetts Senate President William Bulger, in which William allegedly told his neighborhood buddy, “If you can keep my brother out of trouble, that would be helpful.”
Martorano has admitted to killing 20 people when he was part of the Winter Hill Gang, the gang that Bulger once led. Martorano only served 12 years for those 20 killings in a plea deal agreement that brought him to court yesterday to testify against Bulger. Bulger is on trial for 32 counts of racketeering including 19 murders in the 1970s and 80s.
In court, we learned Martorano was “heartbroken” when he learned that in the late 90s Bulger and partner Stephen “The Rifle Man “Flemmi were working as FBI informants. Martorano says that’s when he decided to cooperate with prosecutors and testify against Bulger.
Monday, only the prosecution had the chance to talk to Martorano, questioning that will continue Tuesday.
Michael Coyne, Mass School of Law Assoc. Dean and NECN legal analyst said, “What the government is trying to do is what we call ‘draw the sting.’ They need to layout all their dirty laundry before they can really put some more meat on it to show the jury some of what he says is worthwhile as to Whitey.”