Nightly News   |  June 19, 2013

Is Bulger trial destroying the myth behind the man?

Captured after 16 years on the run, James ‘Whitey’ Bulger is being charged with money laundering, extortion and 19 murders in a trial featuring his former associates, who are testifying against him. Bulger has pleaded not guilty on all counts. NBC’s Ron Allen reports.

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>>> a rare look into the underworld of boston . all playing out in sensational detail in the trial of james "whitey" bulger . the stuff of local legend in the old neighborhood. nbc's ron allen in boston tonight, covering for us.

>> reporter: it is a trial all about what prosecutors called murder and mayhem, criminals running amok. and at the center of it, prosecutors say was james "whitey" bulger . captured after 16 areyears on the run. they called him a hands on murderer. he pleaded not guilty to all charge charges. he in part inspired the movie "the departed" and was allegedly a top informant for the fbi with special protection from the agency.

>> we're talking about a way of life that went on for several decades, in which these corrupt bands of ages assisted him and watched his back.

>> reporter: this man's daughter debra was allegedly strangled by bulger .

>> it won't be closed until he's finally passed away, dead.

>> reporter: the star witnesses are former associates like john martorano . he claims he's testifying against bulger because he was a rat. bulger was a legend ear figuary figure on the streets of boston . loyalty was prized above all else. it is a much different place now, parts of the young, diverse, somewhat upscale with condos and coffee shops and bulger 's reputation has changed a lot too. shelly murphy of the " boston globe " says the trial is destroying the bulger myth.

>> he tried to perpetuate the myth of being a good bad guy . and good bad guys don't rat on their friends and strangle women. this is about whitey trying to re-write the narrative of who he is.

>> reporter: a trial expected to last months with much anticipation about what more will be revealed. ron allen , nbc news, boston .