Jewish World Review Nov. 20, 2013/ 17 Kislev, 5774
One saving moment
By Paul Greenberg
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | One after the other, the witnesses rose to testify to the bloody wreckage the notorious murderer had made of their lives.
The scene was a
Put together, the witnesses' stories added up to his whole, murderous biography. He listened, his eyes not meeting theirs, offering no apology or even response. Whitey Bulger was still Whitey Bulger -- killer, sadist, sociopath, psychopath, rat ... whatever term you prefer. They all apply.
In August of this year he was finally convicted of 11 of the murders, but with Whitey Bulger, who counts? The toll had gone on and on. The only surprise was that he'd been caught at last -- after all those years of evading justice, bribing FBI agents, sneering at the law in general, and killing, killing, killing. He'd evaded justice for 16 years before being tracked down in sunny
Last week a selection of his victims, the widowed and orphaned, the walking wounded in heart and mind, had their say before he was sentenced at last.
The sentence was the one the prosecution had demanded: two lifetime sentences to be served consecutively. Plus five years the judge added on her own. As if to make sure this killer would never, never see the light outside a prison again. All in all, the sentence was light enough after all the lives Whitey Bulger had taken, and others he'd left devastated.
To quote Her Honor Denise Casper, "The scope, the callousness, the depravity of your crimes are almost unfathomable." Nor have they all been completely fathomed even now.
But just for a while, the voices of the innocent were heard in that courtroom after all the detailed, bloodless, almost clinical accounts of one atrocious crime after another had been rehearsed. Through it all, Whitey Bulger just stared down, taking notes on a yellow legal pad, just as he had through the whole eight-week trial and ordeal for those who had lost what they prized most, and that he's he had taken away from them without a mumur of conscience. A father or child left bereft, a husband or wife whose mourning would take a lifetime, they all told their stories.
A government informant who didn't let that stop him from continuing to kill, Whitey Bulger deserved to hear every word his victims had to say about him -- if they could bear to be in the same room with him. The air was heavy with their contempt and hatred for him, both richly deserved.
"I think of the things he missed out on in my life," said a surviving son of a slain father. He recalled childhood baseball games when "I saw all those other fathers with their sons, and me just standing there, wishing I had someone cheering me on, wishing I had someone adjusting my baseball cap."
Sorrow filled the courtroom -- when anger and bitterness didn't, for all these witnesses were bound by one shared quality: what they had lost, what Whitey Bulger had cheated them of.
One witness, whose father the crime boss had ordered killed, looked at the murderer from the stand and told him: "For all your notoriety, you are a punk and you don't even matter anymore. You've turned from a government-sponsored assassin to a pile of jailhouse rags."
And so it went, witness after witness.
And then came
"Could you please look at me?" she asked quietly. He raised his head at last. "I don't hate you," she said. She just wanted to know if he felt any remorse at all for taking her father's life. He did not reply. "I think you do," she said. "I forgive you."
Her simple, quiet words in that wretched courtroom restored my own belief. I have no idea what
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