VERDICT WATCH: No Bulger verdict after 2 days of deliberations
BOSTON (AP) – Jurors in the racketeering trial of James “Whitey” Bulger finished their second day of deliberations Wednesday without reaching a verdict, but the day was filled with drama as prosecutors and Bulger’s lawyers huddled with the judge and the jury asked a series of legal questions about the heart of the case against the reputed crime boss.
The jury started the day by asking Judge Denise Casper for clarification about aiding and abetting, when someone assists in the commission of a crime. They also asked whether they had to consider the statute of limitations for the crimes Bulger is charged with, but the judge told them not to be concerned about that because all of the charges were filed on time under the racketeering statute.
Then, at about noon, prosecutors and Bulger’s lawyers were called into the courtroom. They huddled repeatedly with the judge and held sometimes heated discussions during four sidebars. But no explanation was given for the discussions, and neither side would comment on what issue they had discussed. The jury was not in the room during the talks.
As prosecutor Brian Kelly left the courtroom more than two hours later, he said “Now we wait” to relatives of people Bulger is accused of killing. Kelly also said the jury was continuing its deliberations.
Bulger, 83, is charged in a sweeping racketeering indictment with participating in 19 killings during the 1970s and ’80s while he led the Winter Hill Gang, South Boston’s Irish mob. He was one of the nation’s most wanted fugitives after fleeing Boston in 1994, and was finally captured in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2011.
Prosecutors have alleged that Bulger committed some of the murders himself, but in others, they have said he assisted in various ways, including by helping in the planning or driving one of the cars used in the killing.
Under the racketeering charge, Bulger is accused of committing 33 separate acts, including the 19 killings. He also faces separate counts of extortion, money-laundering and weapons charges. The jury only needs to find that he committed at least two of the 33 racketeering acts within 10 years of each other to find him guilty of the racketeering charge.
Late in the day, the jury asked the judge whether they had to find unanimously on each of the 33 acts, in particular, whether they had to be unanimous if they found that prosecutors had not proven Bulger committed certain acts.
After discussions with prosecutors and Bulgers’s lawyers, Casper said she would send a written note to the jurors indicating that if they cannot come to a unanimous decision on a particular racketeering act, they should make no finding on that act and move on to the next one. She also said she would reiterate that they only need to find that prosecutors have proven two of the 33 acts in order to find Bulger guilty of racketeering.
The jury will resume deliberations Thursday.
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