Nightly News   |  July 18, 2013

Was Bulger witness murdered? ‘Of course,’ friend says

Stephen “Stippo” Rakes, a potential witness in the trial of suspected mob boss Whitey Bulger, was found dead Wednesday on the side of the road in the Boston suburb of Lincoln. One day earlier, prosecutors told Rakes he would not have to testify. NBC’s Kristen Dahlgren reports.

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>>> missed with the boston mob trial that unfolded today, just like a classic mob story . whitey bulger is on trial in boston . he's notorious figure in that city. and while there was more colorful language in court today, it was a find elsewhere in the city that got most of the attention. nbc's kristen dahlgren is in boston for us tonight.

>> it was quite a day in court.

>> reporter: in boston today, shock surrounding a trial many thought couldn't possibly pack in more drama.

>> what was the nature of your relationship with whitey -- with mr. bulger? he says strictly criminal.

>> reporter: steven rakes a fixture at the trial of suspected mob boss and fbi informant whitey bulger was found dead wednesday, one day after prosecutors told him he wouldn't have to testify.

>> never for sale. never, never, never.

>> reporter: rakes accused bulger of forcing the sale of his liquor store at gunpoint. he says he couldn't wake to take the stand here against the 83-year-old now on trial for racketeering and 19 murders after more than a decade on the run.

>> that night haunt mess every night that night.

>> reporter: the 59-year-old was found on the side of the road in the tony boston suburb of lincoln. police say there was no sign of trauma, but an autopsy and investigation are under way. steven davis , whose sister was allegedly strangled by bulger was a friend of rake's.

>> no car. no automobile. no i.d. steve carried his i.d. right here all the name his pocket.

>> do you think he was murdered?

>> me? of course. because of how everything fall into play here now.

>> reporter: it's one more twist surrounding a trial full of accused mobsters with names like the executioner around the rifleman, who today had an outburst in the courtroom.

>> looked at whitey when he stood up, he called him a [ bleep ], you know?

>> it's absolutely riveting. you have got aging gangsters in court seeing each other for the first time in like 15, 18, 20 years, staring each other down. it's been phenomenal.

>> reporter: a trial that may be far from over.

>> i don't want to go back and live the day to have to keep looking over my shoulder.

>> reporter: leaving some wounding what could possibly happen is next kristen dahlgren, nbc news, boston .