From the spacious courthouse windows looking out on the Boston Harbor Thursday, you could observe luxury boats float by, fisherman trying their luck, and the families of the alleged murder victims of James "Whitey" Bulger sitting on the water’s edge.
As the jury in the Bulger trial continued to deliberate, relatives of Michael Donahue, Brian Halloran, Arthur "Bucky" Barrett, Debra Davis & Eddie Connors paced back and forth along the path directly in back of the Moakley Courthouse. Over the past two months these families have gotten to know each other; sitting side by side in courtroom 11 listening to the testimony of 72 witnesses.
Many of the details were personal and brutal in their impact on the wives, sons, mothers, daughters, cousins and lovers of victims. The cloudy, iron-grey sky over the Boston Harbor today gave way, albeit briefly, to a determined Sun. It was metaphoric relief for Steve Davis standing yards from the bobbing waves. But he said he would only be freed from a constant anger he feels just below the surface by a guilty verdict in this case. Davis’ sister, Debra, was allegedly murdered by Bulger in 1981.
At hour 16 of deliberations, Davis was reminded of the 16 years that Bulger was on the run.
“So I can wait a little longer for a verdict,” he concluded.
Upstairs in the courthouse cafeteria, I met Alec Bond, the grandson of Barrett, who was tortured and killed at a house on East Third Street in South Boston. After Barrett was allegedly murdered by Bulger, Steve "The Rifleman" Flemmi ripped out his teeth with a dental device to keep the body from being identified if ever it was found.
Bond, born in 1994, told me he "forgives" Bulger and insisted that his mother, who was 20 years old at the time, feels the same way. But like Davis, he, too, was waiting for a verdict that he hoped would attach the present to the bloody past and at least ameliorate the pain that stretched for many victims here over several decades.
At hour 18, a foghorn blasting from a passing boat seemed to serve as a cue of sorts to move on. The families of the victims headed back into the courthouse to wait a verdict in a real life saga that began more than forty years ago.