BOSTON (Reuters) - A murderer told jurors on Monday about his days as a close associate of James “Whitey” Bulger, joining him in a double murder in which Bulger wore a wig and fake mustache and escaped in a car capable of sending out a smokescreen or oil slick to deter pursuers.
Kevin Weeks, 57, became the second high-ranking member of Boston’s once-feared Winter Hill crime gang to testify against Bulger, who is accused of 19 murders in the 1970s and 1980s and other charges.
Bulger, 83, who faces life in prison if convicted, spent 16 years dodging the FBI after a corrupt FBI official tipped him off that he was about to be arrested in 1994. He was captured living with his girlfriend in Santa Monica, California, in June 2011.
Weeks testified about two of the murders that Bulger is accused of - Brian Halloran and Michael Donahue, who he suspected talking with the FBI in 1982. Weeks said Bulger put on a wig and a floppy mustache and waited outside a restaurant where Halloran was dining - only a few blocks from the federal courthouse where Bulger is now on trial.
When Halloran left the restaurant and got into a car driven by Donahue, Bulger pulled up in his car and called Halloran by his first name.
“Jim Bulger just started shooting right at him,” Weeks testified.
After the shooting, Bulger fled in a 1975 Chevrolet Malibu altered to send out a smokescreen or oil slick.
Bulger wanted the weapons used in the slayings to be dumped in the ocean, Weeks said, but wanted to keep part of one rifle “because he liked that stock.”
“We didn’t want them to get discovered; those guns were used in a murder,” he said. “At that time, I was involved in a double homicide, so there really was no getting out. I knew I was in.”
Donahue’s son, Tommy, called Weeks’ testimony “horrific.”
“It’s horrible listening to that. It shakes my whole entire family,” said Donahue, who added that he was angry that Weeks in his testimony denied knowing the identity of another person in the car with Bulger at the time of the shooting.
“I think he’s a liar in a lot of ways,” Donahue said. “He knows exactly who was in the car with Whitey that killed my father, and I think they’ve been protecting him since Day One.”
Testifying in the fifth week of Bulger’s trial, Weeks also recalled how he, Bulger and Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi often held meetings walking through parts of South Boston, including Castle Island, a popular beach in the city.
“Jim liked to walk for the fresh air and the exercise,” he said. “We talked outside so we wouldn’t be intercepted by law enforcement.”
In exchange for testifying against Bulger, Weeks served just five years in prison after confessing that he was an accessory to five murders. He is the second of three top associates of the gang to testify at the trial, now in its fifth week at U.S. District Court in Boston.
Earlier, the jury heard from John “The Executioner” Martorano, who calmly recounted committing a dozen murders while working with Bulger.
Weeks turned on his former boss when he learned that Bulger for years had been talking with corrupt FBI agent John Connolly, who had grown up in the same South Boston neighborhood.
Bulger has pleaded not guilty to all charges, although in opening statements his attorney said he had been an extortionist, loan shark and drug dealer.
Through his attorneys, Bulger has repeatedly denied serving as an FBI informant, insisting that he paid Connolly for information but never provided any.
Connolly is serving a 40-year prison sentence after being convicted on murder and racketeering charges.
Bulger’s life story inspired Martin Scorsese’s 2006 Academy Award-winning film “The Departed.”
Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Dina Kyriakidou, Xavier Briand, Barbara Goldberg and Bill Trott