The Norman Transcript

November 15, 2013

Tulsa DA considers trial

Associated Press
The Associated Press

TULSA — Prosecutors here have not yet decided whether to move forward with the murder case filed against former crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger, who was sentenced in Boston to two consecutive life sentences Thursday.

In Tulsa, the 84-year-old gangster is charged with first-degree murder in the killing of businessman Roger Wheeler, who was shot to death outside a country club in 1981. Wheeler was chairman of the Telex Corp. and owned World Jai Alai.

Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris said Thursday that Bulger’s sentencing in Boston “brings long-delayed justice,” and told the Tulsa World that Bulger’s federal sentence will be taken into consideration as prosecutors decide whether to try Bulger for the Tulsa case.

Harris said he plans to consult Wheeler’s family members before making a decision. Wheeler’s daughter, Pam Wheeler, previously told the newspaper that she hopes Tulsa County “doesn’t spend a dime” bringing Bulger to Oklahoma.

Bulger, Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi and John Martorano were charged in Tulsa County in 2001 with Wheeler’s execution.

Retired Tulsa police sergeant and homicide investigator Mike Huff, who pursued Bulger in the decades after Wheeler’s slaying, said Harris’ decision may bring closure for some Tulsans.

“I look forward to (Bulger) spending his last days in a very uncomfortable prison,” Huff said. “That’s where he belongs. He should have been there decades ago.”

Martorano — who negotiated a deal for concurrent prison terms for crimes in multiple states — pleaded guilty in May 2001 to second-degree murder in the Wheeler case.

He received credit on that sentence for the more than six years he had already spent in federal custody since his January 1995 arrest on other charges.

He was not required to serve time in an Oklahoma prison but remained in federal custody while serving his concurrent sentences, and was released in 2007 after more than 12 years in federal prison.

Flemmi, who also cooperated with authorities, pleaded guilty in 2004 to first-degree murder in Wheeler’s killing and received a term of life plus 10 years. He has pleaded guilty to nine other murders and is serving his time in a federal prison.

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