During Whitey Bulger’s trial this summer, it was sometimes disturbing to hear the details of the murders and extortions committed by the Winter Hill Gang. But what was disturbing in a different (and possibly worse) way were the comments that Steven Davis made outside the courthouse to Janet Uhlar, who was Juror #12 on the case. Davis’s sister, Debra, was murdered in 1981. She was dating Stephen Flemmi, Bulger’s partner in crime. Although Bulger was indicted in her murder, along with 18 others, as part of a racketeering charge, the jurors could not agree on his guilt in Debra’s death and rendered a “no finding” verdict.
Despite the fact that Bulger was convicted of only 11 of the 19 murders that he was charged with, Judge Denise Casper decided to allow family members of all 19 people, including Davis, to speak at Bulger’s sentencing. She justified this decision by pointing out that the preponderance of the evidence standard, not the reasonable doubt standard, governs sentencing proceedings. Additionally, she noted that Bulger was “convicted of the overarching conspiracy which alleged these acts as part of the scheme in Count One… Even if this could not be concluded from the verdict rendered under the preponderance of the evidence standard, I conclude that such acts were at least committed by those co-defendants in furtherance of the scheme alleged in Count One and were reasonably foreseeable as part of the conspiracy.” Judge Casper went so far as to say, “there’s nothing about this conclusion… that undermines the verdict.”
Uhlar advocated against this decision, sending a letter to the judge prior to the sentencing and telling NBC News, “It’s a violation of the judicial system if it’s allowed. Basically, they’re ignoring the verdict on those particular acts.”