Medical examiner lays out fatal shots in Bulger trial
Of the 19 killings Bulger is charged with, 17 were deaths by shooting
Some jurors squirmed during the graphic testimony
Jurors squirmed Monday as a Massachusetts pathologist detailed the wounds inflicted on the 19 bodies prosecutors have lain at the feet of reputed Boston mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger.
Richard John Evans, the state’s former chief medical examiner, described gunshot wounds to the temple, neck, spinal cord or heart in graphic detail. The jury in Bulger’s federal racketeering and murder trial was both riveted and visibly uneasy during Evans’ testimony, with some of them holding their hands over their mouths as he outlined the damage inflicted by bullets in 17 of the 19 cases.
Others twisted in their chairs during the testimony, while many intently took notes. But about eight victims into the litany of death certificates, the jurors appeared more relaxed.
Most of the victims were shot repeatedly in the head or neck, Evans testified. They included William O’Brien, who was expecting a baby boy when he was shot 20 times on a Boston boulevard in 1973.
“The most significant of the 20 was a wound to his right shoulder which pierced the spinal cord and lodged in his neck region,” Evans explained. “It severed the spinal cord five centimeters from the bottom of the brain stem, which would make breathing impossible.”
Former gang associate Francis “Buddy” Leonard was found in 1975 riddled with 13 bullets, including two to the left side of the head and one in the neck, according to his death certificate.
Another victim, Brian Halloran, was shot 14 times in 1975. All of the shots were “through-and-throughs,” leaving no with bullets passing completely through the body, Evans testified.
Dead alongside him was Michael Donahue, Evans testified, a friend who wasn’t affiliated with Boston’s criminal gangs. Donahue was giving Halloran a ride home from a bar; his cause of death was “a gunshot wound to back of head that went into his brain,” Evans explained.