In terms of sheer emotional impact, today's Bulger trial proceedings --  which are still going on -- may pack the biggest punch yet.

The day opened with testimony from Diane Sussman, who was in a car mistakenly riddled with bullets by Bulger associate John Martorano during his long, bloody search for a hood names Al Notarangeli, whom he eventually killed. Michael Milano, the driver of the car, was slain in that drive-by.

Sussman survived. So did her boyfriend at the time, Louie Lapiana -- but he was paralyzed, had to learn to speak again, and was forced to breathe through a respirator. Sussman's voice broke repeatedly as she discussed that night and its aftermath, and at least one juror wept.

The catch: asked by the defense, during its cross-examination, if she knew who killed Michael Milano, Sussman said she didn't -- adding that identifying a likely assailant would be "speculation." And that, in a nutshell, was how the morning went. The prosecution repeatedly called relatives of Bulger's alleged victims, who movingly recounted learning of their loved ones' deaths. But those same relatives rarely mentioned Bulger's name -- and when they did, they failed to tie him directly to the crimes in question.

"You kill 20 people, go testify against somebody, you can walk! That's how the system works."

The prosecution also struggled to harness the testimony of Ralph DeMasi, a serial felon who just completed a 21-year prison sentence this year and was testifying unwillingly, under court order. Alternately truculent and charming on the stand, DeMasi recalled surviving a drive-by shooting -- in which Bulger was allegedly involved -- that took another man's life. But he didn't mention Bulger's name, either. And J.W. Carney, one of Bulger's attorneys, skillfully used his cross-examination to again impugn the credibility of John Martorano, the Bulger associate and mass murderer turned star government witness. Carney noted that despite killing no one, DeMasi spent 21 years in prison; in contrast, Martorano acknowledged 20 murders but served just 12 years. Carney also got DeMasi to say that unlike Martorano, who received $20,000 in "start-up money" from the government upon his release, DeMasi got 16 bucks. "You kill 20 people, go testify against somebody, you can walk!" DeMasi said incredulously. "That's how the system works."

Bulger's defense team couldn't have scripted it better if they'd tried.