James "Whitey" Bulger announced that he will not testify in his defense, calling his trial a "sham," but plans to give hundreds of thousands of dollars found in his home to the families of two men he is accused of murdering, his defense attorneys said Friday.
Authorities recovered more nearly $822,000 from the 83-year-old's apartment in Santa Monica, Calif., when he was arrested in 2011. Bulger is accused of racketeering, money laundering, extortion and ordering or committing 19 murders in the 1970s and 1980s. He has pleaded not guilty.
One of Bulger's defense attorneys said he requested that the money go to the relatives of alleged victims who had civil judgments overturned when an appeals court said the lawsuits had been filed too late. Bulger reportedly made the request while lawyers were deciding whether the money should be in the jury room during deliberations, The Associated Press reported.
"My client is prepared to have all the money forfeited to the victims' family that prevailed at trial first, but had it reversed because of ... a highly technical (court) process," defense attorney J.W. Carney said Friday, according to CNN.
The families of two alleged victims – Michael Donahue and Brian Halloran – fall into that category. In 2011, an appeals court upheld an earlier decision that threw out the lawsuits due to statute of limitations.
Prosecutor Brian Kelly said Bulger cannot "dictate" where the funds go, but that the government plans to see that the seized funds go to victims' families, USA Today reported.
Carney also announced on Friday that Bulger would not testify and that the defense had finished calling witnesses. But Bulger told the judge that he decided not to testify "involuntarily."
"My defense was choked off. As far as I'm concerned I didn't get a fair trial," Bulger told U.S. District Court Judge Denise Casper, according to The Boston Globe. "This is a sham. Do what you want with me."
Family members of Bulger's alleged victims, including Pat Donahue, the son of Michael Donahue, groaned as he said he would not testify, the Boston Globe reported. Pat Donahue yelled at Bulger, saying he was a coward.
In the days leading up to the close of defense arguments, Bulger's attorneys have attempted to show a softer side of the Irish mob boss by releasing photos that show him in various scenarios, including him on vacation, with a former girlfriend and her dogs and as a young man dressed in a suit.
Prosecutor Fred Wyshak said that the photos were an attempt by Bulger to try to salvage his public reputation before jury deliberation begins.
Lawyers are expected to make their closing arguments on Monday, and deliberations could begin on Tuesday.