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Gangster testifies in 'Whitey' Bulger trial

BOSTON -- A feared gangster known as "The Rifleman" detailed for a jury Friday a grisly string of nine killings he says reputed Boston crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger ordered, approved or carried out with his own hands, including the strangling of the witness' own girlfriend in 1981.

Stephen Flemmi, 79, said he set his girlfriend's killing in motion when he blurted out to her that he and Bulger were FBI informants.

Bulger decided Debra Davis knew too much and strangled her in front of Flemmi, the once-loyal Bulger associate told a rapt jury at Bulger's racketeering trial in federal court.

"What did you do?" prosecutor Fred Wyshak asked.

"Nothing," Flemmi replied.

"Why not?" Wyshak asked.

"That was the plan," Flemmi said.

Flemmi did show a flash of remorse for the killing of Davis, who was 26. "It's affected me and it's going to affect me until the day I die," he said.

In rapid succession, the mob turncoat described Bulger's alleged role in eight other killings during the 1970s and '80s when the two men were leaders of the Winter Hill Gang, Boston's Irish mob.

On Thursday, when Flemmi began his testimony, he and Bulger snarled obscenities at each other. But on Friday, Bulger looked straight ahead and took notes on a legal pad during Flemmi's testimony.

In one of the slayings he recounted, Flemmi said he and Bulger sprayed a phone booth with gunfire in 1975, killing bar owner Edward Connors, because he was "telling people Winter Hill business," including details about an earlier murder committed by the gang.

Flemmi said another gang member lured Connors to the phone booth by telling him he would receive a call there. Bulger and Flemmi were waiting for him, Flemmi said.

"We just stepped out from the side of the building -- the garage -- and shot him," Flemmi said, matter-of-factly.

As for the strangling of his girlfriend, Flemmi said he initially refused to go along with Bulger's plan to kill Davis, whom he had dated for years.

He said Bulger gave a litany of reasons, saying he was worried because Davis was flashing around gifts Flemmi had given her, including a Mercedes and expensive jewelry. "That was drawing attention to me and to him," Flemmi said.

He said Bulger told him to bring Davis to a house Flemmi had bought in South Boston. As soon as they walked in, Bulger grabbed her by the neck and strangled her as he carried her downstairs, Flemmi said.

Flemmi said he laid her body on a tarp, and Bulger "went back upstairs and he laid down." Two associates arrived and moved the body to the trunk of a car. She was buried along the banks of the Neponset River in Quincy.

Bulger, 83, is accused of playing a role in 19 killings.

Flemmi pleaded guilty in 10 killings and was sentenced to life in prison in a plea deal that spared him the death penalty.

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