US Marshals Service via Reuters; AP
James 'Whitey' Bulger in a 2011 booking photo, left, and John Martorano in 2008.
James “Whitey” Bulger, already charged with killing 19 people, was accused Monday of emotionally wounding a Boston hitman.
John “The Executioner” Martorano – a star witness at Bulger’s racketeering and murder trial – told the jury that it “sort of broke my heart” when he learned his pal was an FBI informant.
He said Bulger and Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi had been his “partners in crime,” his best friends and godfather to his children, the Associated Press reported.
But the news that Bulger and Flemmi were working with the feds “broke all the trust that we had, all loyalty,” Martorano said, according to the Boston Globe.
So he hit them where it hurt: He decided to become a government snitch, too.
As a result of his cooperation agreement, Martorano served just a dozen years in prison even though he admitted to 20 murders, some of which he matter-of-factly recounted in his first hours on the stand.
“I shot him … in the heart,” Martorano said of the 1973 slaying of Joseph Notarangeli. He said he dressed as a butcher for the rubout at a Medford, Mass., restaurant called the Pewter Pot.
Martorano also described a 1974 hit on Notarangeli’s brother, Alfred, and claimed Bulger watched from a second car – the first time in the week-old trial that a witness has directly tied the 83-year-old ex-fugitive to a killing.
The confessed hitman said he botched the initial attempt on Alfred Notarangeli’s life, mistakenly killing bartender Michael Milano who drove a similar car.
“Wrong guy,” he told the prosecutor, according to the Globe.
Milano wasn’t the only unintended victim of Martorano’s bloody membership in the Winter Hill Gang. Innocent bystanders Elizabeth Dickson, 19, and Douglas Barrett, 17, were caught in the crossfire and killed when Martorano opened fire on associate Herbert Smith in 1968.
Smith’s capital crime? He laughed at Flemmi, Martorano said.
The witness admitted he felt bad about Dickson and Barrett.
“I wanted to kill myself,” he said, according to the Globe.
Martorano – who has reportedly sold his life story to a movie producer for $250,000 – is one of three former Bulger cronies testifying for the prosecution. In opening statements, the defense argued the trio only squealed to save themselves and have no credibility.
Bulger, who spent 16 years on the lam before being nabbed with his girlfriend in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2011, is charged with taking part in 19 murders, extortion, money-laundering, drugs and weapons.
He has pleaded not guilty, and in opening statements, his lawyer described him as a small-time drug-dealer and loanshark – not the notorious gang kingpin who prosecutors say kept a stranglehold on South Boston for decades and inspired Jack Nicholson’s character in “The Departed.”
Bulger also has denied he was an informant for the FBI, even though he wanted to put on a defense that argued he had immunity from the feds to commit crimes.
This story was originally published on Mon Jun 17, 2013 5:33 PM EDT