Category: Archive

Cop’s day in court

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Patrick Markey

The New York Police officer who is accused of shooting and killing Derry native Hessy Phelan three years ago is scheduled to appear in Bronx State Supreme Court on Feb. 22 for the start of his trial on second-degree murder charges.

The officer, Richard Molloy, is accused of shooting Phelan with his service revolver inside a Bronx apartment after the two men allegedly argued. Phelan, a former member of the Irish National Liberation Army who had served time in the Maze prison, had come to the U.S. 10 years before his death and worked as a house painter.

Witnesses have told investigators that Molloy and Phelan left a Bronx bar together after a barmaid asked the off-duty officer to take Phelan to her apartment. Phelan was reportedly drunk at the bar. But the accounts diverge as to what happened when the two men got inside the apartment.

The prosecution alleges that an enraged Molloy prodded his service weapon into Phelan’s face and shot him through the left eye as the Irishman sat on a sofa. Using medical records, they have argued that the angle of the bullet wound makes it impossible for Phelan to have killed himself, as the defense suggests.

Molloy’s defense attorney, George Vallerio, presents a radically different scenario: Phelan snatched Molloy’s gun out of its holster as the officer reached over to switch off the TV, then placed the gun to his head and shot himself before Molloy could stop him.

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During the three years leading up to the trial, defense and prosecution attorney’s have wrangled over what evidence could be presented at the non-jury trial. With no eyewitnesses to the incident, the prosecution has tried to gather evidence from Molloy’s past to illustrate an alleged pattern of abusive behavior. Several allegations against Molloy of abuse and drunken gunplay — including a number if incidents inside bars — will be allowed as evidence in the trial.

The defense, meanwhile, has painted a portrait of Molloy as a hardworking cop with a high arrest record who was simply trying to help a despondent and drunken acquaintance on the night of the Irishman’s death.

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