James "Whitey" Bulger

New judge to hear immunity claim by ‘Whitey’ Bulger defense

BOSTON (AP) — Lawyers for reputed gangster James “Whitey” Bulger will get a second chance to persuade a judge to allow Bulger to use his claim of immunity as a defense at his trial.

U.S. District Judge Denise Casper, who was assigned to the case last month, has scheduled a hearing for April 19 on Bulger’s request to reconsider another judge’s ruling barring him from using the immunity claim.

Bulger, the former leader of the Winter Hill Gang, is awaiting trial in June, charged with participating in 19 murders.

U.S. District Judge Denise Casper was assigned to the trial last month after an appeals court granted Bulger’s request to remove Judge Richard Stearns for a potential conflict of interest.

Bulger claims federal prosecutor Jeremiah O’Sullivan gave him immunity for his crimes in the 1980s. Stearns ruled that Bulger could not present evidence to a jury about his claim that the immunity deal applied to crimes committed in the future. He found that an immunity agreement “cannot as a matter of public policy license future criminal conduct.” Stearns did not rule on Bulger’s claim that he received immunity for past crimes.

Bulger’s lawyers have said Bulger will testify in his own defense at his trial and will explain how and why he received immunity. They recently denied that Bulger was an FBI informant, despite contradictory testimony during previous court hearings and an FBI informant file containing more than 700 pages.

Prosecutors have called Bulger’s claim absurd.

Bulger, now 83, was a fugitive for 16 years after fleeing Boston in late 1994. He was captured in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2011.

Source: AP

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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