BOSTON–Convicted gangster James “Whitey” Bulger filed an appeal in federal court Thursday arguing he didn’t get a fair trial because he wasn’t able to claim he was promised immunity from a now-dead prosecutor.
The 84-year-old former crime boss was convicted a year ago on sweeping federal racketeering charges that included involvement in 11 murders. He is serving two consecutive life terms in a high-security federal prison in Arizona.
His seven-week trial gripped Boston while dredging up tales of morbid killings and mob activity stretching back decades. Some of the testimony against Mr. Bulger came from admitted killers who struck deals with prosecutors. The trial also recounted on how Mr. Bulger and his cohorts enjoyed protection from corrupt law-enforcement agents.
But Mr. Bulger, who spent 16 years on the run before his 2011 arrest, refused to testify. Instead, he called his trial a sham because a judge ruled he couldn’t use his immunity defense.
The 200-page appeal, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, argued his decision to not testify was involuntary.
“The court precluded the defendant from raising his immunity arrangements at trial in any form, including but not limited to, cross-examining adverse witnesses, presenting any evidence through his own witnesses, and most importantly, testifying to the agreement himself,” the defense said.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston, which prosecuted Mr. Bulger, said they are reviewing the filing and will respond through the court.