BOSTON — The brother of a woman who prosecutors say was strangled by James “Whitey” Bulger wiped away tears Thursday as a forensic anthropologist showed jurors in Bulger’s racketeering trial photographs of his sister’s skull taken after her remains were found in a watery grave.
Debra Davis, 26, disappeared in 1981. Her remains were found 19 years later buried near the banks of the Neponset River in Quincy.
Davis’ brother, Steve Davis, said that it was difficult for him to see the skull photographs, which showed some of her trademark long blond hair.
“She didn’t deserve it, you know,” Davis told reporters outside court.
“Today was probably the hardest day of all — to see it,” he said.
The photos were identified by Ann Marie Mires, who worked for the state medical examiner’s office when Davis’ body and the body of Tommy King were found in 2000.
Bulger is accused of participating in 19 killings, including Davis’ and King’s, in the 1970s and ‘80s while he allegedly led the Winter Hill Gang. Bulger fled Boston ahead of a 1995 indictment and remained a fugitive until 2011, when he was captured in Santa Monica, Calif. He has pleaded not guilty.
King was a rival of Bulger’s, while Davis was the girlfriend of Bulger’s partner, Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi.
Flemmi has testified during other trials that he saw Bulger strangle Davis. Bulger denies killing her. Mires said a rope was found with her remains.
Former hit man John Martorano testified that he shot King on Bulger’s orders.
The widow of another alleged Bulger victim, Arthur “Bucky” Barrett,” also testified Thursday, describing how her husband repeatedly called her the day he disappeared in July 1983.
“He left the house in the morning and then I kept getting phone calls from him,” Elaine Barrett said. “He wanted me to take the kids out of the house.”
She said the last time he called he said “he wouldn’t be home for a while, he had to get money.”
She said she never saw or heard from him again.
Bulger’s former right-hand man, Kevin Weeks, testified earlier this week that Barrett, a jewel thief, was interrogated at gunpoint by Bulger about the location of his money from earlier robberies. Weeks said Bulger’s gang took $47,000 in cash from his home and $10,000 from his bar. Weeks said Bulger then shot Barrett in the head.
Also on Thursday, Judge Denise Casper rejected a request from Bulger’s lawyers to suspend the trial for two days so they could have more time to prepare for the prosecution’s forensic experts. Bulger’s lawyers also argued that Bulger, 83, is exhausted from the trial and needs a break.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary Hafer opposed the request, saying Bulger’s fatigue is not a good reason to delay the trial.
“The victims in this case have been waiting long enough for justice,” Hafer said. He also said Bulger “had 16 years to relax in California,” a reference to his time as a fugitive.
The judge turned down the request to suspend the trial, but agreed to shorten the length of testimony on Thursdays so that court will end at 1 p.m. instead of 3:30 p.m. That matches the schedule for the other days of the week.