After seven weeks of colorful witnesses and rancorous testimony, the jury began deliberations Tuesday in the trial of alleged crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger.
Eight men and four women on the federal court panel have the monumental task of processing testimony from drug traffickers, extortion victims, gangsters, families of alleged victims and shooting victims, along with more than six hours of closing arguments.
Bulger is accused of 19 killings and 13 counts of extortion and money laundering during a 20-year "reign of terror" that defined South Boston from the early '70s through 1995, when Bulger fled Boston.
Jurors deliberated for six hours Tuesday before court was suspended for the day shortly after 4:30 p.m. ET. Deliberations are scheduled to resume Wednesday at 9 a.m.
Jurors will have to decide if the government has proven its case and if Bulger is guilty of the alleged crimes "beyond a reasonable doubt."
"You must decide which evidence to believe and which witnesses are true. You can believe some, or all, or none," U.S. District Court Judge Denise Casper told the jurors Tuesday, adding a cautionary instruction for government witnesses who have entered into plea deals for immunity and lesser sentences.
Casper advised that jurors weigh the potential that these witnesses "may have a motive to make up stories." Simultaneously, jurors are advised not to draw inferences from a witness's guilty plea.
Plea deals for gangsters
In their closing arguments Monday, defense attorneys attacked the credibility of gangsters who became star witnesses for the prosecution, testifying under immunity after they learned Bulger was an informant for the FBI for nearly two decades.
Prosecuting attorney Fred Wyshak on Monday defended the government's unsavory plea deals with those gangsters, three of whom implicated Bulger in the 19 murders and various acts of extortion.
"The government didn't choose them, Bulger chose them," Wyshak said.
"The only thing worse than making a deal with (former hit man) John Martorano would have been not making a deal with John Martorano." Wyshak said the government "held its nose and made the deal."
Prosecutors called 63 witnesses during the course of the trial, with the defense bringing only 10 to the stand. Martorano testified for both sides, making a total of 72 witnesses over 35 days.
As he presented his closing argument Monday, Wyshak called Bulger one of the most "vicious, violent and calculating criminals to ever walk the streets of Boston."
The prosecution took close to three and a half hours for its closing. The defense took over two and a half hours to make its case, then the prosecution had the final word in a rebuttal.
Defense attorney J.W. Carney summed up his case by questioning the credibility of prosecution witnesses, some of whom came to court with extensive criminal resumes and who had worked out deals with the government in exchange for testifying against Bulger.
"If you cannot say in your deliberation that I personally can believe (prosecution witnesses) beyond a reasonable doubt, then the government cannot prove its case about the alleged murders," Carney told the jury.
"The government is buying the testimony of these witnesses. The currency used here (is) how much freedom someone is going to get. What the government can pay the individual is the individual's freedom," Carney continued.
Earlier, Wyshak said Bulger and his partner "plotted, they schemed, they robbed they murdered together, they were also informants together."
Prosecutors contend Bulger was an FBI informant who used protection from rogue agents as he continued his life of crime. Defense attorneys have argued Bulger was not an informant, and that FBI bungling was key in the case.
"If there is one thing you heard during this trial, it's how secretive that relationship is," Wyshak said to the jury Monday. "The last thing a criminal wants ... is for people to know he's an informant."
But he also said that it "doesn't matter whether or not Bulger is an FBI informant when he put the gun to the head of Arthur Barrett and pulled the trigger." Arthur "Bucky" Barrett died after being shot in the head in 1983.
"It's not about whether or not the FBI in Boston was a mess," he said. "... It's about whether or not the defendant is guilty of crimes charged in the indictment."
Families of the victims were in court every day of the trial. The wife of one of the victims shouted "You're a coward!"
The defense rested its case Friday with no rebuttal from the government. In its weeklong presentation, Bulger's lawyers tried to cast doubt on who killed two of the 19 victims, both of them women. The defense also attempted to shift the blame onto the FBI, specifically agents who either did nothing or did too little to prevent several killings.