MARBLEHEAD — Not every Marblehead grandmother is worrying this week because she is on Whitey Bulger’s witness list.
Phyllis Karas is, however, because she’s co-author of “Brutal: The Untold Story of My Life Inside Whitey Bulger’s Irish Mob” with Kevin Weeks, the Bulger lieutenant who literally knew where the bodies were buried. He is seen as a crucial government witness in a trial where Bulger is charged with complicity in 19 murders.
She hasn’t seen the list herself, but Karas has been advised that she could be called in order to blunt the testimony of Weeks.
“I would be a witness for the defense,” she says. “Which would be horrible. Nineteen murders. ... I have no desire to go into court and be a defense witness for Whitey Bulger. ... The purpose of the defense in calling me would be to discredit Kevin.”
Karas trusts her co-author and considers both Weeks and his wife friends.
“Kevin was the witness who put (rogue FBI agent) John Connolly behind bars,” she recalls. Moreover, she doubts that anything she could say or anything in their books will undermine his testimony at this trial. “Kevin was totally truthful with everything. All the details have since been gone over with the government.”
At one point, it was Weeks who led investigators to the graves of several murder victims.
The co-authors continue to be in close contact, though Karas declines to discuss their conversations or very much regarding Weeks’ feelings as the trial begins.
“I will say this about Kevin: He hoped this would never happen. He didn’t want Whitey to be found.”
Karas wrote two books with Weeks, including a second effort titled “Where’s Whitey,” a fictional account of Bulger’s life on the run. Its publication was upstaged, however, by the actual capture of Bulger in June 2011.
The notoriety of the Bulger trial might sound like a dream come true for a writer, but neither Karas nor Weeks is pleased by the turn of events. She hopes the trial boosts sales for “Where’s Whitey,” but adds, “I could think of a better way to sell a book.”
“Brutal” continues to sell well, says Karas. “I’m proud of ‘Brutal.’ A lot of the money went to the victims’ families.”
A number of media figures have been named as potential witness, but few have had such a close association with one of the key witnesses as Karas. Thus far, she hasn’t received a subpoena or been contacted by either the defense or the prosecution.
She never intended to go to the trial. She’s at work on a book concerning the women of Southie, South Boston women who got involved with gangsters like Bulger.
“These are women who have an attraction to bad men,” she says. “They are fascinating, and they are strong.”
As for the Bulger trial? “Personally, I kind of wish this would be over.”