Defense team takes aim at former Bulger associate - New York News

Defense team takes aim at former Bulger associate in cross-examination

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BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com) – James "Whitey" Bulger's defense team attempted to portray former Bulger associate John Martorano as a ruthless serial killer who would do anything for money during the key government witness' second day of testimony Tuesday.

Martorano kept his calm demeanor while fielding questions from the prosecution as he matter-of-factly explained grisly details in the murders of Thomas King, John Callahan, and Roger Wheeler.

Photo exhibits from Bulger trial

In discussing the King murder and Bulger's relationship with him, Martorano said "I guess he and Tommy couldn't get along." Martorano said he joined Bulger, King, and Winter in a car and that King was told they were going to kill another man. Flemmi arrived and handed them all guns, but before they arrived to the hit, Martorano shot King in the head.

Martorano said after the murder, Bulger said, "Tip your hat, there's Tommy," when they drove over the bridge near King's burial site.

The former Bulger associate also described killing Richard Castucci as he sat counting money with Bulger. He said Bulger's friend "Zip," the nickname for FBI agent John Connolly, told Bulger Castucci was talking to the Feds.

Martorano went on to explain the murder of Oklahoma businessman Roger Wheeler. He said his friend, John Callahan, wanted to buy World Jai Alai from Wheeler and that he was worried about the businessman and believed he had a good chance of buying the gaming company from Wheeler's wife.

The reputed hitman claims he and another associate killed Wheeler as he got into his car at a country club. He said former FBI agent H. Paul Rico wrote down Wheeler's information and gave Callahan his expected tee time at the country club. Callahan then gave that information to Martorano.

Despite claiming he was not a hitman because he never received money for committing murder, Martorano said Callahan gave him $50,000 after murdering Wheeler, which he then split among another associate, Bulger, Flemmi, and himself.

"He was my friend, I woulda done it for free," said Martorano.

Martorano also described his unwillingness to murder Callahan after Bulger and "Stevie" Flemmi told him Callahan had told Brian Halloran about Wheeler's murder. They claimed Halloran had gone to the FBI with the information and Martorano claims Bulger admitted to killing Halloran. Halloran was being driven home by Michael Donahue when he was killed. Both men were shot to death.

Martorano said it was "two against one" and that he and his associates were "already up to their necks in murders." He admitted to shooting Callahan in the back of his head while inside Martorano's car in Florida. He then transferred his body into Callahan's car and took his belongings to "spread across the Cuban section" so that the murder would be pinned on the Cubans.

Martorano claims Callahan was the last person he murdered. During his testimony Tuesday, he also explained other illegal activity carried out by the Winter Hill Gang, including fixing horse races.

When many members of the gang were indicted, Martorano claims Flemmi and Bulger turned to the "rent business." Martorano describes the operation as charging people to stay in business, he also described it as extortion.

During cross-examination, the defense immediately asked Martorano if he would describe himself as a serial killer. He said he would not, since serial killers enjoyed committing murder and he did not. He claimed he did not enjoy killing, but enjoyed helping friends when he could.

Attorney Hank Brennan questioned Martorano about several murders, one of which Martorano claimed happened when the man "stared him down" while he was on a date. Martorano claims he stabbed the man after he tried to stab him first and then dragged him to his car to get him somewhere that he could get medical attention. Brennan questioned whether or not he was trying to get the man help, causing Martorano to become visibly flustered. Martorano says he did not plan to drive the man somewhere else to kill him, but said he stabbed him again inside the car because "he would not shut up."

Photo exhibits from Bulger trial

In discussing the murder of John Callahan, Brennan repeatedly called Callahan Martorano's "friend" rather than using his name.

The defense questioned Martorano's credibility as a witness prior to the trial.

The sixth day of testimony is scheduled for Wednesday.

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