Victims' relatives to speak at Bulger sentencing - New York News

Victims' relatives to speak at Bulger sentencing

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BOSTON (AP) - Relatives of people killed by gangster James "Whitey" Bulger will finally get a chance to describe their loss as a federal judge convenes a two-day hearing to consider his sentence for decades-old slayings.

Family members of at least 11 murder victims are expected to speak at the hearing, which begins Wednesday. But the judge has not yet ruled on whether relatives of people whose murders Bulger was acquitted of will also be allowed to speak. Prosecutors are seeking two consecutive life sentences.

The former head of the Winter Hill Gang fled Boston in 1994 ahead of an indictment and spent more than 16 years as a fugitive before being captured in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2011.

Bulger, now 84, was convicted in August in a broad indictment that included racketeering charges in a string of murders in the 1970s and 1980s, as well as extortion, money-laundering and weapons charges. A federal jury found that prosecutors proved Bulger played a role in 11 out of 19 murders in which he was charged.

Jurors found the government had not proven Bulger participated in seven other killings and were unable to reach a verdict in one additional murder.

Bulger's lawyers spent much of his trial trying to refute a claim by prosecutors and Bulger's former partner that Bulger was a longtime FBI informant who ratted out the New England Mafia and other crime groups.

Bulger did not testify and called his trial a "sham" because he was not allowed to use as a defense his claim that a now-deceased federal prosecutor gave him immunity to commit crimes. He also will be allowed to make a statement at his sentencing.

Follow @bward3 @sharmantv and @fox25court on Twitter for live courtroom updates from James "Whitey" Bulger's sentencing.
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