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Meath man won’t face death penalty in S.F.

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Hammer is leading the prosecution against William Monaghan, a 27-year-old man from Oldcastle, Co. Meath, who is charged with murdering Lional Voillat last Oct. 26.
Monaghan is accused of throwing Voillat, a Swiss national, overboard from a party boat in San Francisco Bay. According to an eyewitness account, the two men had argued after Monaghan had been talking to Voillat’s girlfriend. Voillat’s body was recovered three weeks later after it was spotted floating between Alcatraz and Angel Island.
Hammer said that the jury in the case convicts Monaghan it will have the option of finding him guilty of either second degree or first-degree murder.
A guilty verdict of second-degree murder would carry a sentence of 15-years-to-life while a first-degree guilty verdict would result in a 25-to-life sentence.
“There are no capital cases in San Francisco. But in general we don’t plea bargain in murder cases,” Hammer said.
Monaghan has pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder charge.
Monaghan is due to appear in court this Friday, March 28. His appearance will mark the formal opening of the trial, which will then proceed to jury selection.
Hammer said that the trial would probably not get fully underway until early or mid-April.
Prosecutors had sought a speedy trial in the case because one of the key witnesses was due to return to Ireland in May, Hammer added.

PHILLY TRIAL POSTPONED
Prosecutors in Philadelphia were expressing frustration this week as the trial of four men accused or robbing and murdering Donegal native Neil Martin McConigley was long-fingered for a second time.
The trial of the four was first due to take place last October but was put off until earlier this month because one of the four accused, alleged shooter Marlon Mullings, was yet to be extradited from his native Jamaica.
Mullings, however, is still in custody in Jamaica. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Justice Department, which is handling the extradition case on behalf of the Philadelphia courts, said that the extradition proceedings were “still pending” in Jamaica.
It was “not uncommon” for extradition cases such as that against Mullings taking “a bit of time,” the spokeswoman said.
Jude Conroy, the lead prosecutor in Philadelphia, said that the situation had been further complicated because a defense attorney for one of Mullings’s three co-accused had required emergency surgery on the eve of the trial, the revised date for which was March 12.
Conroy said that the trial would now likely be “rolled back for several months.”
McConigley was gunned down near his business office in October, 1999 as he was pursuing the gang that had just robbed his business partner.

BATTLE ON TO SAVE IFI MONEY
The White House wants to cut the annual U.S. contribution to the International Fund for Ireland from $25 million in the current 2003 budget to $8.5 million in 2004, but fund backers in Congress are gearing up to fight any reduction in U.S. support.
“We don’t yet know why the cut is being proposed or the reasoning behind it,” Suzanne Anziska, a spokeswoman for Rep. Joe Crowley said.
Crowley, a Queens Democrat, played a leading role in securing $25 million in the Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill for the current fiscal year.
Crowley, together with New Jersey GOP Rep. Chris Smith, was now attempting to find out the basis for the proposed slashing of the IFI money.
“There’s no justification for a cut right now but it’s not a done deal. A final deal is months away. The situation could change and hopefully it will,” Anziska said.
The International Fund for Ireland was set up in the wake of the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985 and money from it is used to support economic projects in Northern Ireland and border areas of the Republic.

JEANIE FOR NYC IN JULY
The Famine-era replica sailing ship Jeanie Johnston will be in New York for Independence Day.
The ship, which finally set sail from Ireland for the Canary Islands last month, is due to make its first North American port of call, Palm Beach, Fla., in mid-April.
The ship will then make its way up the eastern seaboard paying visits to Savannah, Charleston, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, Trenton and Bristol Pa.
The three-masted barque will arrive in New York on July 3 and remain until July 14. It will then sail up the coast to ports in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and from there up the coast to Canada before sailing back to Tralee in Co. Kerry in early October.

AMID WAR, AER LINGUS RELAXES RULES
Aer Lingus is operating what it said is a “relaxed cancellation policy” due to the situation in Iraq. The policy has been operating in recent weeks but has been extended until the end of March, said the airline’s Long Island-based executive vice-president, Brian Murphy.
The policy was due to lapse on St. Patrick’s Day but has now been extended until March 31, Murphy said.
The policy applies to non-refundable tickets or fees for one-time ticket changes.
“There is a great deal of apprehension in the minds of consumers but we’re trying not to do anything drastic. Aer Lingus is maintaining its commercial responsibilities,” Murphy said.
He said that consumers appeared to be in a holding pattern amid the general climate of uncertainty surrounding the airline industry.
While the number of trans-Atlantic bookings for the summer months was not at its usual level for this time of year, there has been no rush to cancel plans already made for the summer, Murphy indicated.

FRIENDS PRAISE GFA
The Friends of Ireland in Congress pointed to the Good Friday agreement as the main engine for stability in Northern Ireland in their annual St. Patrick’s statement released last week.
“Since the Good Friday agreement we are seeing a more stable economy in Northern Ireland,” the statement, issued by Friends chairman Rep. James Walsh said.
The statement looked forward to the cessation of all paramilitary violence in the North, British army demilitarization, the “growth of a police force that represents and protects all the people of Northern Ireland” and “the enactment of justice and equality laws that serve all the people of Northern Ireland.”

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