James ‘Whitey’ Bulger trial: Jurors view photos of alleged victims’ remains

Updated 6:44 AM EDT, Fri July 12, 2013

Story highlights

A forensic pathologist walks jurors through photos of the remains of alleged Bulger victims

Several bodies buried in shallow graves had decomposed, Dr. Ann Marie Mires says

Widow of one alleged victim describes the last time she spoke with her husband

Reputed mob bass James "Whitey" Bulger is charged with murder in 19 deaths

Boston CNN —  

Graphic testimony from a forensic anthropologist, including images of decomposing bones and brain matter, continued Thursday in the federal case against Boston’s reputed mob boss, James “Whitey” Bulger.

Dr. Ann Marie Mires, a Massachusetts state forensic anthropologist, showed jurors gruesome photos of human remains found in shallow graves in the Boston area. One grave was at Tenean Beach in Dorchester, and two sets of remains were excavated along the Neponset River.

The remains at Tenean Beach were found in a 3-foot grave in September 2000, Mires told the court.

Jurors were shown several photos of the remains there, including parts of a pelvic bone, a fractured skull with decomposed brain matter and a claddagh ring with part of a decomposed finger bone.

Earlier this week, Kevin Weeks, Bulger’s longtime crime associate, told jurors that at this location, Bulger said, “Drink up, Paulie,” in reference to Paul McGonagle. Authorities believe Bulger killed McGonagle, who was a leader of a rival gang in Boston.

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Most of McGonagle’s remains were severely decayed due the shallow grave and the corrosive damage from the water, Mires explained. Some of his remains were very much intact, though. Jurors were shown a picture of a pair of shoes, socks and leg bones extending straight out of the socks.

Bulger is charged in the deaths of 19 people during some two decades when prosecutors say he ran Boston’s Irish mob. He also faces charges of extortion, racketeering and money laundering.

Two set of remains that were found along the Neponset River had also been damaged by water and tidal currents, Mires said.

The first set of remains was excavated there in late September 2000, and it included part of a skull with a bullet hole, she said. The remains were found with a bulletproof vest, a navy, three-piece suit, driving gloves and a claddagh ring around a finger bone. Mires testified that these were the remains of Thomas King.

John Martorano, one of Bulger’s hitmen, testified earlier in Bulger’s trial that Martorano himself shot King in the back his head, and he knew where King’s body was dumped.

“I was driving over Neponset Bridge (in Boston) one day, and Whitey said, ‘tip your hat to Tommy …. He’s over there,’ ” Martorano testified.

The remains of Debra Davis were discovered about a month later along the river. Most of her remains were discovered in plastic bags along with rope around the bags, Mires explained.

Almost all of Davis’ bones were recovered. Because her body was in bags, even some of her hair was preserved. Mires showed the jury photos of the remains, the hair found on the skull, and how the tidal movement corroded Davis’ skull.

Her hair, along with pieces of her bones, were tested for DNA and were positively identified as the remains of Davis, according to Mires.

One of the shortest and more emotional testimonies of the day came from Elaine Barrett, the widow of alleged Bulger victim Arthur “Bucky” Barrett.

Earlier in the trial, Weeks testified that he saw Bulger shoot Barrett in the back of his head after Barrett had tried to buy his way out of death.

“He called at 11, said he wouldn’t be home for a while; he had to get money,” Elaine Barrett told the court.

“Did your husband, Bucky Barrett, ever come home?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Wyshak asked the widow.

“No.” Barrett answered, tearing up.

She said she never saw or spoke to her husband again.

Earlier in the day, before the jury entered the courtroom, the judge heard a request from J.W. Carney, Bulger’s attorney, to postpone the trial until next week. He said the defense team needed more time to go over the materials and evidence and that Bulger, 83, was tired.

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Assistant U.S. Attorney Zach Hafer argued against the motion, telling the judge that the victims and their families have waited long enough for justice and the defense had enough time to go over the materials.

U.S. District Judge Denise Casper dismissed Carney’s request.

Thomas Donahue, a son of one the alleged Bulger victims, told reporters outside of court on Thursday, “I don’t care if he (Bulger) is tired,” in response to Carney’s request.

“Like it was said in court he (Bulger) had 16 years to relax… He will be fine,” said Steve Davis, brother of Debra Davis.

Bulger’s trial continues Friday when the prosecution plans to call a forensic dentist as well as Steve Davis.