BOSTON – A federal judge on Friday agreed to delay the murder trial of former mobster James "Whitey" Bulger by three months, rejecting a defense request for eight months.
U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns said he would put off Bulger's trial from March until June. He said jury selection will begin on June 6.
The 83-year-old Bulger, who was hospitalized briefly after complaining of chest pains a few days ago at the prison where he has been awaiting trial, is known as the former leader of the Winter Hill Gang. He's charged with participating in 19 murders. He fled Boston in late 1994 and remained a fugitive on the FBI's Most Wanted list until June 2011, when he was captured in Santa Monica, Calif., with his longtime girlfriend.
Bulger has pleaded not guilty. His lawyer has said he will testify at trial about his claim that he was given immunity for his crimes by a federal prosecutor while he was an FBI informant on the Mafia.
Lawyer J.W. Carney Jr. has argued that the defense needs more time to review a huge volume of materials, including more than 364,000 documents, turned over by prosecutors in what he claims is a disorganized and redundant fashion. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Kelly has accused Bulger and his attorneys of continually trying to stall the trial.
The judge, in his ruling, said he tried to be fair to Bulger by giving his lawyers adequate time to prepare for trial while also being fair to prosecutors, the public and the families of the people who were killed.
Bulger's girlfriend, Catherine Greig, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to harbor a fugitive and identity fraud related to their time on the run. She was sentenced to eight years in prison and paid a $150,000 fine.
Prosecutors say Bulger and Greig, who's in her early 60s, posed as married retirees from Chicago and had a stash of more than $800,000 in cash and dozens of weapons in their apartment when they were captured.