BOSTON — Federal prosecutors urged a judge Tuesday to allow detailed testimony from victims’ families at the trial of James “Whitey” Bulger, whose lawyers want the relatives’ accounts to be limited.
Bulger, the former leader of the Winter Hill Gang, is charged with playing a role in 19 murders. His trial is scheduled to begin next week.
Bulger’s lawyers argued in a motion filed last week that detailed testimony from family members would be “unduly prejudicial.”
Bulger’s lawyers said in their motion that prosecutors plan to call at least one family member from each of murder victims listed in the indictment. They should not be allowed to discuss the impact that their relatives’ deaths had on them, his lawyers said.
“Any such testimony would be enormously prejudicial while lacking any probative value,” Bulger’s lawyers argued in their written motion. “This testimony would serve only to provoke an emotional response among the jury.”
Prosecutors said they have the right to call relatives to testify about their firsthand knowledge, including events surrounding the disappearance of their loved ones and their identification of them after their bodies were found.
“This court should not … preemptively bar the government from legitimate areas of inquiry because the family members of James Bulger’s 19 murder victims are grief-stricken,” prosecutors argued in their written response.
Judge Denise Casper did not immediately rule.
Bulger, now 83, was one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives after he fled Boston in late 1994. He was captured in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2011.