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Whitey Bulger Trial Update: Drugs, murder, jailhouse conversations focus of reputed mob boss' racketeering trial in fourth week

Former mob boss "Whitey" Bulger, found in Santa Monica after being on the run for 16 years, appeared in a Boston court and pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and racketeering. AP Photo

Whitey Bulger
James "Whitey" Bulger
AP Photo
(CBS/AP) BOSTON - This week, in just two days, jurors in the Whitey Bulger trial heard testimony, sprinkled with laughter and tears, describing drugs, murder and jailhouse conversations.

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Due to the holiday week, Bulger's racketeering trial was only held two days this week. But in a small amount of time, a lot was discussed. On Monday, John Morris, a former FBI agent who admitted taking payoffs from Bulger, continued testimony and offered a tearful apology to the family of one of Bulger's alleged murder victims.

"Not a day in my life has gone by that I haven't thought about this. Not a day in my life has gone by that I haven't prayed that God gives you blessing and comfort for the pain that you suffered," Morris said as he looked at Patricia Donahue, the widow of Michael Donahue.

Morris had testified that he told fellow FBI agent John Connolly that Edward "Brian" Halloran had given authorities information about a murder Bulger's gang was suspected of committing. At the time, both Morris and Connolly had corrupt relationships with Bulger, who he said was a longtime FBI informant at the same time he was committing a litany of crimes.

Prosecutors say Edward "Brian" Halloran and Michael Donahue - an innocent bystander who had offered Halloran a ride home - were killed in 1982 by Bulger after Connolly leaked the information to the reputed mob boss.

Despite a tearful apology by Morris, Patricia Donahue says it didn't mean anything to her and that it came "way, way too late."

"While he's getting his (FBI) promotions, I'm mourning my husband," she said.

Morris has been given immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony. Connolly was convicted of racketeering and second-degree murder for leaking information to Bulger and his gang.

The mood shifted later Monday when Joseph Tower, a former drug dealer who said he went into business with Bulger in 1980, was called to testify. Tower has also received immunity from prosecution.

Tower said he was approached by a Bulger associate who offered to protect him and his customers form harassment by others trying to cut into his business.

Bulger laughed in court Monday as Tower referred to him as the "protection" in the organization and energetically testified about how Bulger's name instilled fear in people.

On Tuesday, William Shea, another former drug dealer, testified that Bulger created a charade to make it look like he wasn't involved in the cocaine-dealing operation in order to protect his local reputation.

Shea said that Bulger threatened him when Shea said he wanted out of the operation.

"You remember what happened to Bucky Barrett?" Shea said Bulger told him, referring to a safecracker whom prosecutors say Bulger killed.

Also on Tuesday, prosecutors played recorded jailhouse conversations. During one of the recordings, Bulger is heard mimicking the "rat-tat-tat" sound of a machine gun when speaking about a local bar owner, Edward Connors, whom prosecutors say Bulger gunned down in a phone booth.

"The guy in the phone booth. Rat-tat-tat!" Bulger says during the 2012 conversation with a relative.

Connors' daughter, Karen Smith, who was 7 at the time of her father's murder, gave emotional testimony earlier Tuesday. She recalled learning her father was dead by seeing the picture of his sprawled body on TV.

The 83-year-old Bulger, who was one of the nation's most wanted fugitives until he was finally captured in Santa Monica, Calif. in 2011, is charged with playing a role in 19 killings during the 1970s and `80s. He has pleaded not guilty.

Complete coverage of the Whitey Bulger case on Crimesider

  • Stephanie Slifer

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