By Daniel Lovering
BOSTON (Reuters) - The murder and racketeering trial of mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger took a macabre turn on Wednesday, as jurors heard from a witness who described how authorities had exhumed the bodies of at least two of the gang's victims from a Boston field.
Referring to photos of remains shown in court, forensic anthropologist Ann Marie Mires explained how investigators used earth-moving machines, hand trowels and brushes to dig out leg and foot bones buried 7 to 8 feet deep in the ground.
A day earlier, former Bulger associate Kevin Weeks recalled first burying three bodies in the dirt-floored basement of a house in South Boston in the early 1980s, and later digging them up to move them to the Dorchester field when the house was put up for sale.
Among the victims was 26-year-old Deborah Hussey, the stepdaughter of Bulger associate Steven "The Rifleman" Flemmi. Investigators, led to the grave in January 2000 by Weeks, found leg bones, ribs and pelvises - suggesting at least two people were buried - as well as black plastic bags that may have been used to move the bodies, Mires said.
Bulger is on trial for charges including 19 murders he is accused of committing or ordering in the 1970s and 1980s, while he ran Boston's feared "Winter Hill" gang.
He has entered a not guilty plea to all charges, though his attorney has described the 83-year-old defendant as an "organized criminal" involved in extortion, loan sharking and drug dealing.
Bulger's defense has focused much of its effort on denying the government's claim that he was an FBI informant. Through his attorneys, Bulger contends that he paid corrupt FBI agent John Connolly for information, but provided none of his own. Connolly is now serving a 40-year sentence on murder and racketeering charges.
Bulger fled Boston after a 1994 tip from Connolly. He evaded arrest for 16 years, much of the time listed on the FBI's "Most Wanted" list. Agents caught up with him in June 2011, living in a seaside apartment in Santa Monica, California.
His story inspired Martin Scorsese's 2006 Academy Award-winning film, "The Departed," in which Jack Nicholson played a character loosely based on Bulger.
(Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Paul Thomasch and Bernadette Baum)