Whitey Bulger Moves to Exclude Photographs of Victims, Denied - U.S. First Circuit
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Whitey Bulger Moves to Exclude Photographs of Victims, Denied

Alleged murder and mob boss James ‘Whitey’ Bulger may be on alert to exclude photographs from evidence after prosecutors shocked jurors in June by giving them a slideshow of Bulger’s 19 alleged victims.

The prosecutors argued that Bulger was a “hands-on killer” while showing photographs of the 17 men and two women that Bulger is accused of killing, reports ABC News.

In response to other photographs of victims being admitted into evidence, Bulger filed a motion to exclude on Tuesday, one that was denied by Judge Casper on Wednesday.

Photographs to Be Excluded

In his motion to exclude filed with the court on Tuesday, Bulger argued that photographs of murder victims Edward Connors and Francis Leonard.

Edward Connors, as a key prosecution witness testified on Tuesday, was the man who was gunned down in a telephone booth by Bulger in 1975, reports The Boston Globe.

Bulger's motion sought to exclude photographs of Leonard and Connors, particularly a photo labeled Exhibit 182, a close-up of Connors' dead body "crumpled at the bottom of the phone booth."

Danger of Prejudice

Balancing prejudice and probative value the Federal Rules of Evidence requires that probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice. The key here is "unfair" prejudice, as it is not in any murder's rights to not be confronted with the fruits of his crimes, and under U.S. v. Munoz, which Bulger's motion cites, "damage done to the defense is not a basis for exclusion."

As Jim Carrey's character found out in "Liar Liar", an objection "because it's devastating to my case" is not sufficient. Most photographs of crime scenes, even of the pile of corpses Bulger has allegedly left in his wake, could have enough probative value to survive the emotional effect that they have on juries.

Cumulative or No Probative Value

The infamous Bostonian also argued that presenting multiple photographs would be cumulative or duplicative evidence, resulting in no probative value for jurors and a waste of the court's time under Rule 403.

The First Circuit has given district judges wide discretion to exclude relevant evidence which is voluminous or cumulative, so much so that it would confuse the jury, but it is doubtful that three crime scene photos would confuse the jury more than one.

This is likely why Judge Casper denied Bulger's motion to exclude on Wednesday, allowing the photographs of the alleged murder victims to be presented.

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