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Bulger could face more legal action in Mass., other states

Tuesday, August 13, 2013, 5:38pm
(NECN: Alysha Palumbo, Boston) - James “Whitey” Bulger left federal court Monday a convicted murderer and headed back to Plymouth County Correctional Facility to await sentencing in November.

But that’s not where this tale of murder and mayhem ends.

With his federal trial over, Bulger could now be prosecuted at the state level in at least four states.

NECN legal analyst and Mass School of Law Associate Dean Michael Coyne said, “There are murder charges pending in Oklahoma and Florida, which both states carry the death penalty with them.”

In Oklahoma, Bulger faces charges in the Tulsa murder of World Jai Alai executive Roger Wheeler.

In Florida, he could be charged with the murder of businessman John Callahan.
While several victims’ relatives have said they would like to see the aging mobster put to death, Coyne says that may not be a reality, even if he’s found guilty in both states.

Coyne said, “By the time that process winds its way through the appellate levels the likelihood of him still being alive is relatively low.”

But Coyne says that likely won’t stop state prosecutors there from pursuing charges against the nearly 84-year-old prisoner.

“It’s a sexy trial as we know, we just had a fascinating two months," said Coyne, "and so I wouldn’t expect it would be easy for a prosecutor to pass on it.”

Coyne says California could also take a crack at convicting Bulger, considering he was a felon and a fugitive when he was arrested with an arsenal of weapons and more than $800,000 in cash in Santa Monica in 2011.

“Those charges alone would keep him in jail for the rest of his life,” said Coyne.

But the biggest question mark following Monday’s split verdict is whether Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley will prosecute Bulger at the state level here, especially in the murder of Debra Davis where the federal jury had no finding.

Coyne said, “I think there’s a chance, I think again they’ll probably take a step back and assess the evidence.”

A Suffolk County DA spokesperson said state prosecutors plan to meet with federal prosecutors in the next few weeks to go over the evidence to see if there are any state charges that could be brought in any related cases -- that would include charges in the murder of Debra Davis and charges against alleged gunman Patrick Nee.

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