Whitey Bulger's FBI Pal Has Murder Verdict Tossed
Justices say that because he didn't pull the trigger, John Connolly couldn't be tried
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 29, 2014 12:56 PM CDT
In this May 28, 2002 file photo, former FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr., center, leaves federal court in Boston, after he was found guilty in his racketeering trial.   (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

(Newser) – Whitey Bulger's longtime FBI handler might be on the verge of freedom, after an appeals court threw out his murder conviction yesterday. In a 2-1 decision, the Miami judges ruled that because John Connolly Jr. hadn't actually pulled the trigger, he should never have been tried for the 1982 killing of businessman John Callahan, because the statute of limitations for second-degree murder without a firearm had run out by the time prosecutors charged him. Connolly had alerted Bulger that Callahan intended to inform on him to the FBI, prompting Bulger to hire a hit-man, the Boston Globe reports.

"It’s interesting that he has a chance to be free," Callahan's widow said. "Unfortunately, my husband doesn’t have that chance." Connolly isn't free yet—the judges sent the case to a lower court "until any and all post-appeal motions are final," denying his lawyer's request for immediate release. Prosecutors do intend to seek a rehearing. "I'm just glad for him that he's finally going to be a free man," one Connolly lawyer tells the Boston Herald. "The only case against John has been out of the mouths of killers." The appeal had been predicted from the moment Connolly was convicted. (Click here for proof.)