But for families who sat through the trial, only to have the jury find that prosecutors had not proven the case against Bulger in their loved one’s killing, speaking at his sentencing is something they feel they need to do.
William O’Brien Jr., whose father was killed when gunmen opened fire on the car he was driving along a Boston street in 1973, said he was completely blindsided by the jury’s finding that prosecutors had not proven Bulger played a role in his father’s death.
“I can’t even tell you how that made me feel or the mental state that put me in for a month afterward,” he said. “I feel like I need to finish what was started.”
O’Brien never knew his father, who was killed four days before O’Brien was born. He said he hopes to somehow convey his and his mother’s loss to the judge during Bulger’s sentencing hearing.
“Even though I never got to meet him, I still think of him every day. I still feel a bond with him,” O’Brien said.
“To not ever have been able to meet him once or to have the opportunity to go to my first Red Sox game with him, that’s the stuff I can’t come to grips with. That still gets me to this very day.”
Federal prosecutors say family members of all 19 murder victims should be allowed to make either verbal or written victim impact statements for Bulger’s sentencing. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Kelly said there is legal precedent for allowing testimony at sentencing on “acquitted conduct.”
Prosecutors also argue that Bulger was convicted of two racketeering charges that required the jury to find that he was part of a criminal enterprise responsible for the murders of all the victims, regardless of whether he was the actual killer.