BOSTON — Jurors in the trial of James "Whitey" Bulger have begun deliberations in a sweeping racketeering indictment that accuses the reputed crime boss of participating in 19 murders during a two-decade reign over Boston's underworld.
The jury began deliberations Tuesday morning after hearing instructions from Judge Denise Casper.
The 83-year-old Bulger is charged with orchestrating or committing the killings during the 1970s and '80s while he allegedly led the notorious Winter Hill Gang, a crew of mostly Irish American gangsters.
Prosecutors presented closing arguments Monday morning with Assistant U.S. Atty. Fred Wyshak telling jurors that Bulger was "one of the most vicious, violent and calculating criminals ever to walk the streets of Boston."
Defense lawyers tried to put the government itself on trial during closing arguments, accusing federal prosecutors of making sweetheart deals with ruthless killers to put the reputed Boston crime boss behind bars.
Bulger was one of the nation's most wanted fugitives after he fled Boston ahead of a 1994 indictment. He was captured in Santa Monica in 2011.
He is accused of shooting or strangling some of the victims himself. In other cases, he allegedly ordered the slayings or participated in some other way.
During the nearly eight-week trial in U.S. District Court, jurors have heard sometimes gruesome testimony about the 19 killings in which Bulger is accused of participating, as well as numerous instances of extortion, money-laundering and gun-hoarding.
Bulger's girlfriend, Catherine Greig, pleaded guilty last year to charges related to helping Bulger stay on the run for more than a decade and was sentenced to eight years in prison. She tried to have her sentence reduced, saying people who alleged their relatives were killed by Bulger shouldn't have been allowed to speak at her sentencing, but an appeals court panel found no basis to change the sentence.