James “Whitey” Bulger — the South Boston alleged mobster accused of murdering or ordering the murder of 19 people over the course of several decades — heads to trial Monday for procedural nitpicking that clears the way for jury selection and court drama.
Both sides are angling for a leg up in what some have described as the criminal trial of the century. Defense attorneys just argued that Mr. Bulger should be allowed to claim immunity – a motion the judge shot down, WGBH News reported. Now, the defense is trying to clamp down on what victims’ families can say in court, out of concern that emotional testimony could sway the jurors. It’s not likely the judge will find in Mr. Bulger’s favor on that point, either.
“Back in 1983, Bulger [and his associate Steven “The Rifleman” Flemmi] took my liquor store from me,” said one witness, Steven Rakes, in the WGBH report. “At the time, I was scared to death. I was afraid for myself being murdered, my family. And I’ve never had the opportunity to face the man again, and I will shortly.”
Flemmi is currently behind bars, serving time for 10 murders, but ikely will testify in the Bulger trial, WGBH said.
Jury selection starts tomorrow, WGBH reported. Between 300 and 500 potential jurors are set to be interviewed this week — and the defense is going to have a hard time rooting out the unbiased. Mr. Bulger’s name is well-known throughout New England.