BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com) -- FOX 25 has learned a deceased former witness in the James "Whitey" Bulger trial wanted to hold up a design showing a silhouette of the reputed mob boss and his brother on the stand.
Stephen "Stippo" Rakes worked with courtroom sketch artist Margaret Small on a design depicting Bulger and his brother, former State Senate President William Bulger, along with the caption "I've got your back."
Small says the design is something Rakes came up with and wanted to hold up while testifying.
"One day he said to me, 'You're and artist, I want you to do a picture for me. Two silhouettes, one of Bulger and one of his brother Bill,'" Small explained. "He said everyone would know those silhouettes."
Small said Rakes told her to write the caption beneath it and that he planned to bring it with him on the witness stand.
The artist tells FOX 25 Rakes asked her to do it before the July 4 holiday, but she never gave it to him, deciding in the end it just made her too uncomfortable.
Rakes, a Quincy resident, was found dead in Lincoln last week after he was told he would not be called as a witness. FOX 25 has learned his death is being investigated as suspicious, a possible poisoning.
The question is, what is the motivation behind his wanting the picture made?
"Is he trying to say something, was he trying to say something?" FOX 25's Sharman Sacchetti asked Steve Davis, the brother of murder victim Debra Davis.
Davis had coffee with Rakes almost every morning before court. He maintains Rakes looked forward to testifying.
"He used to tell me, and I'll say it again and again, you'll see
Rakes claimed Bulger's crew extorted a liquor store from him at gunpoint in 1984. He was a retired MBTA worker, who attended the trial nearly every day.
Former Bulger associate Kevin Weeks denied Rakes' account during his testimony. He claimed Rakes sold the store to the group.
"I think like a lot of people in Southie, in Massachusetts, Stippo thought Whitey got a lot of clout from his brother's power at the Statehouse. His brother was the most powerful politician in the state," said Bulger nemesis and radio personality Howie Carr of the possible motivation behind the sketch.
FOX 25 tried to get a comment from William Bulger on the sketch by reaching out to Thomas Kiley, who served as an attorney for the former Senate president. So far, we haven't heard back.
William Bulger has not been in court at all during his brother's trial. His brother, Jackie, has been.