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August 2, 2013

Bulger won't testify, calls trial a sham

BOSTON (AP) — James "Whitey" Bulger revealed today that he wouldn't be testifying in his own defense, but he said the decision was "involuntary" and that his racketeering trial was a "sham."

Defense attorney J.W. Carney Jr. met with Bulger this morning and returned to the courtroom to tell Judge Denise Casper that he had finished presenting witnesses.

Bulger then told the judge, without the jury present, that he had decided not to testify "involuntarily."

"I feel that I've been choked off from having an opportunity to give an adequate defense," he said. "As far as I'm concerned, I didn't get a fair trial. This is a sham."

He railed about the judge's decision prohibiting his lawyers from using an immunity defense. Bulger has claimed he received immunity from a now-deceased federal prosecutor. Casper ruled before trial that that was not a legal defense to crimes including murder.

Bulger, 83, is on trial in a broad racketeering indictment that accuses him of participating in 19 murders in the 1970s and '80s as leader of the Winter Hill Gang. He has pleaded not guilty.

Bulger fled Boston in 1994. He was one of the nation's most wanted fugitives until he was captured in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2011.

Earlier Friday, Carney said Bulger wants the $822,000 in cash seized from his Santa Monica apartment to go to relatives of victims who won monetary judgments in lawsuits but then saw those awards overturned by a federal appeals court because the statute of limitations had expired.

It appears that two families fall into that category: Relatives of Michael Donahue and Edward "Brian" Halloran. In 2011, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an earlier decision that ruled the two families didn't file their lawsuits against the FBI in time.

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