BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com)—Shooting survivors and family members of James "Whitey" Bulger's alleged victims delivered emotional testimony in the reputed mob boss' trial Thursday.
The day began with survivor Diane Sussman de Tennen, who at one point looked to the ceiling in an attempt at composing herself as she tearfully recalled the night in 1973 she was shot alongside her boyfriend and his co-worker, Michael Milano.
De Tennen said she "had the honor of sitting in the front passenger seat" of Milano's new Mercedes on the evening of March 8, 1973. She left the bar where her boyfriend, Louie Lapiana, worked as a bartender. Milano, the restaurant manager, drove the same car as the bar's owner, "Indian Al" Notarangeli. A Bulger associate claims Notarangeli was the intended target of the shooting.
The California native says they were at a stoplight when she heard a continuous sound that she later learned was machine gun fire. She instinctively ducked down. When she sat back up, she saw Milano slumped over the steering wheel. He did not respond when she asked if he was alright. Lapiana was leaned forward in the back seat and quietly answered "no" when asked if he was alright.
De Tennen was overcome with emotion as she described fighting with police so she could go with Lapiana to the hospital. She later learned she was hit by gunfire in the arm and spent two days in the hospital. Her voice began to shake as she said she believed Milano died on the way to the hospital and as she described her boyfriend's recovery.
De Tennen remained close to Lapiana up until his death in 2001. She remained by his side during his recovery.
"I talked to Louie, he could not talk back. It was a one way stream," De Tennen said of her interaction with Lapiana shortly after the shooting.
Lapiana, who was paralyzed in the shooting, moved to the Veterans Association Hospital in Long Beach, Cali. De Tennen also returned to Cali. where she currently resides.
Emotional testimony continued with family members of alleged victims, including Donald Milano, Michael Milano's brother, Debra Scoli, William O'Brien's girlfriend and mother of his child, and Tom Angeli, "Indian Al" Notarangeli's son.
Two former members of New England's mob underworld also testified. Richard DeMasi, who served time for a conspiracy to rob an armored car, testified about the murder of William O'Brien. DeMasi was in the car alongside O'Brien when shooters opened fire on Morrissey Boulevard in March 1973. DeMasi, who says he was shot eight times, told prosecutors he met O'Brien for the first time on the day he was killed.
Charles Raso, a former bookmaker, also discussed his partnership with the Winter Hill Gang and the murder or Michael Milano. Raso, who worked out of the restaurant where Milano served as manager, said he couldn't make sense of Milano's murder. He added that the slain restaurant manager idolized Al Notarangeli and even purchased a Mercedes similar to the one Al owned.
Raso said he went on the run after Joe Notarangeli was killed in fear of his life. A deal was made that put Raso into business with the Winter Hill Gang. After several members of the gang were indicted for fixing horse races, Raso said he continued working with Bulger and Steve Flemmi. His partnership eventually ended with the group, but Raso continued to pay Bulger and his associates $1,000 a month until his 1995 arrest for refusing to testify against associates.
Raso turned his attention to the defense team while being questioned by the prosecution. He asked Attorney J.W. Carney why he was staring at him. Judge Casper said she believed everyone was trying to listen to Raso's testimony and asked him to continue.
Testimony ended early Thursday and is expected to continue Friday morning.