Feds: Bulger at center of murder, mayhem in Boston

Federal prosecutors opened up their case against reputed gangster James "Whitey" Bulger on Wednesday, and set the tone of this long-awaited trial with the story of Arthur "Bucky" Barrett.

Barrett was supposed to be looking at stolen jewelry in 1983, instead he met Bulger at a South Boston home on East Third Street.

Prosecutors say Bulger put a gun in Barrett's face, chained him to a chair, and questioned him repeatedly. After stealing $50,000, Barrett was walked over to the top of the cellar stairs.

Prosecutors say Bulger shouted, "Bucky is going to lie down for a while."

Bulger then shot Barrett in the back of the head, according to prosecutors. While Barrett's body was buried in the dirt of the basement floor, Bulger rested upstairs on a couch.

Bulger, now 83, sat quiet and still looking more like a gentle grandfather than cold-blooded killer and reputed leader of Boston's Irish mob.

Bulger's life plays out on the pages of crime writer's novels. And Jack Nicholson's character in the film "The Departed" was said to be based on Whitey.

The government said Bulger paid off cops, ran drugs, and extorted money - like taking over a Southie liquor store on Old Colony Avenue by putting a gun to the then owner's head.

Bulger is also accused of 19 murders, including that of 26-year-old Debra Davis, the girlfriend of his partner Stephen Flemmi. Bulger allegedly strangled Davis in the house at 832 East Third Street, next door to his brother William Bulger, then president of the Massaschusetts Senate.

Davis's brother Steve, as well as other victims' families, was in the courtroom Wednesday.

"My justice and the justice of the government are two different things. I'll never get justice," Davis said.

Bulger fled Boston in December of 1994. His old South Boston mob associates started talking. The decomposed bodies of those they allegedly killed were found and dug up. Bulger was eventually caught in California; 16 years later along with his girlfriend and an arsenal of guns, fake ID's and $800,000 in cash.

Appointed defense attorney J.W. Carney, Jr. said Bulger was never an FBI informant, like the government asserts, but did bribe FBI agents, state and local police - paying them for information.

Absent was any mention of murder.

Carney told jurors the government's three star witnesses -- Stephen Flemmi, John Martarano, and Kevin Weeks -- are all criminals and talked to get sweet deals and lighter sentences.

Carney also told jurors that Bulger was never tipped off by his former FBI handler, John Connolly, but heard the news of indictments on his car radio and decided to drive off; settling in Santa Monica, openly and in plain sight, not hiding for 16 years.

Carney said the FBI pretended to find him for all those years.

Jurors were shown pictures of all 19 murder victims up on a big screen.

The trial is expected to last until September.