Co-authored by Jon Leiberman and Margaret McLean - authors of the upcoming book "The Gavel Strikes" on the trial of James "Whitey Bulger"
"This is why I stay and fight--I want to show that my husband Michael was an innocent person and that he wasn't involved with anything having to do with Whitey."
Those poignant words came during our wide-ranging conversation with Patricia Donahue several days ago. People may not know Patricia's name - yet. But - they are about to.
On the eve of jury selection in the James "Whitey" Bulger trial - Patricia has a message. She will not let her husband die in vain.
Patricia has been waiting to be heard in a court of law since 1982. That was the year when James "Whitey" Bulger along with members of his criminal enterprise allegedly gunned down Michael when he gave an acquaintance a ride home from a popular Boston restaurant. Unbeknownst to Michael, the acquaintance happened to be an FBI informant against Bulger in another murder investigation. The FBI leaked the information and the informant instantly became a target. Thus, it was simply Michael Donahue's bad luck that he drove to the South Boston waterfront that day to buy bait and supplies for a fishing trip he had planned for his eight year old son, Tommy. It was bad luck that Michael stopped by the restaurant on his way home, and decided to be a good Samaritan offering to give someone he knew a ride. A tragic example of being in the right place at the wrong time. Michael is one of 19 victims listed in the sweeping criminal complaint against Whitey Bulger. Patricia says she will do everything she can to make sure her husband doesn't just become a number - but rather a loud of voice for justice.
So much time has elapsed since Michael's death, yet Patricia still remembers the day. "What kind of system do we have that my husband was killed at 6:00 o'clock. I saw a bulletin flash across my television screen that there was a gangland slaying. When I watched the news, I saw my father-in-law's car, and knew Michael was driving it. No one would give me any information. I knew one man had died and the other was in the hospital. I called the police and every hospital in the Boston area, and no one would give me information. What kind of system do we have?"
Indeed- it is a system that took close to 3 decades to arrest the man police say stole the love of Patricia's life. Now, she and her sons, Tommy, Michael and Shawn, will enter a Boston courtroom and look Mr. Bulger right in the eyes as he finally stands trial. It will be a moment they have longed for and will never forget.
Patricia: "I don't think you know how big this case is really going to be until you step in that courtroom on June 10th. I'm looking forward to hearing a lot of the testimony because it's going to fill in a lot of the empty blanks for me...I have mixed emotions because I've never been involved in any type of trial like this. I'm worried about how my children are going to handle all this."
The Donahue family has attended every pretrial hearing since Bulger's arraignment on federal murder and racketeering charges in July of 2011.
Please join us for all of our thoughts on the victims, their families, and jury selection in a special Wild About Trial Spreecast at 9pm Eastern on Tuesday night. You can also submit your questions.