It has been more than two and a half years since Derry native Hessy Phelan was killed by a bullet fired from the gun of police officer Richard Molloy. Whether Molloy pulled the trigger or Phelan committed suicide, as the defense attorneys in the officer’s murder trial contend, is for the courts now to decide.
Whatever the judge’s decision about what happened, the end of a trial will bring a closure, at least in part, to a harrowing time for Phelan’s mother, Anna, and no doubt for the family of officer Molloy, too.
Over the last two years, the trial has been mired in controversy. The murder case against Molloy has been thrown out by a Bronx judge, only to be reinstated by an appeals court. There have been protests, alleged threats and an unsanctioned journey south by Molloy while he was being indicted.
These past few weeks the Bronx District Attorney’s office and Molloy’s defense team have tussled again over the past, dragging out allegations of Molloy’s misconduct. If, indeed, as the prosecution says, Molloy has a history of drunken gunplay, then he should at least be removed from the force. Should he then be found not guilty, that would provide some small solace to those who believe he is.