BOSTON (AP) — A former enforcer for James "Whitey" Bulger is expected to face more tough cross-examination by Bulger's lawyers when he returns to the witness stand for a third day.
James Martorano, who admitted killing 20 people, is set to continue testifying Wednesday. On Monday and Tuesday, Martorano described a string of killings he said Bulger either ordered or participated in, including the 1982 killing of Boston businessman John Callahan, who Martorano described as a close friend.
Martorano, 72, said he reluctantly agreed to kill Callahan at the insistence of Flemmi and Bulger, who said Callahan would likely finger the gang in the 1981 killing of Tulsa, Okla., businessman Roger Wheeler. He said Bulger and Flemmi said Callahan had to be killed because he wouldn't hold up if questioned about Wheeler's killing.
Martorano said he stopped killing people after he fatally shot Callahan in 1982. During aggressive cross-examination Tuesday by Bulger's attorney, Martorano insisted that he is not a hit man or a serial killer, but instead is a "nice guy" who was only trying to help his family and friends when he pumped bullets into victims while working with Bulger and his gang.
Bulger, now 83, is charged in a racketeering indictment with participating in 19 killings in the 1970s and '80s as leader of the Winter Hill Gang. He fled Boston in 1994 and was one of the FBI's most wanted fugitives for more than 16 years until he was captured in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2011.
Bulger's lawyer, Hank Brennan, went after Martorano, sarcastically asking him about an assertion that he did not consider himself a hit man. Brennan asked Martorano whether mass murderer or serial killer were more appropriate descriptions for him.
"You're different from a serial killer how?" Brennan asked. "A serial murderer kills for fun. They like it," Martorano said. "I don't like it. I never did like it." Martorano served 12 years in prison after he cut a deal with prosecutors and agreed to testify against Bulger. He is one of three former Bulger loyalists who are expected to be the prosecution's star witnesses against Bulger.
In testimony Monday, Martorano said he decided to become a government witness after learning that Bulger and Flemmi had been working as FBI informants. Bulgers' lawyers deny that he ever provided information to the FBI. In opening statements to the jury last week, attorney J.W. Carney Jr. said Bulger paid FBI agents to tip him and his gang about investigations so they could avoid prosecution.
Martorano said he killed people when they hurt or threatened his family, or if they threatened to tell authorities about the gang's illegal activities He said he always tried to help people he was close to, either by giving them money or in other ways.
"I always tried to be a nice guy," he said. But Bulger's lawyer grilled Martorano about several instances where he killed the wrong person or innocent people who were with the intended target. Brennan asked Martorano whether he regretted killing a 19-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy who were in a car with Herbert Smith, a man who had beaten up Flemmi, when he jumped into the car and shot all three.
Martorano said he saw three silhouettes as he approached the car. Since he expected Smith to be alone, he thought Smith may have planned to ambush him, so he killed all three people, he said. "I did feel bad. I still feel bad. It's the worst thing I did, but I can't change it," he said of the 1968 killings.