By Patrick Markey
Richard Molloy, the New York police officer found guilty in the shooting death of Derry immigrant Hessy Phelan, is due to be sentenced this week after his conviction of second-degree manslaughter charges.
Second-degree manslaughter is a class C felony, which carries a prison term of five to 15 years, according to the Bronx District Attorney’s office. That could include probation, a sentence of 1 to 3 years or the maximum sentence of 5 to 15 years. The presiding judge has discretion over the length of the prison sentence.
If he receives prison time, Molloy will be passed on to the state corrections system, where he will be screened for another prison facility, correction officials said.
With Phelan’s mother in New York for Molloy’s appearance, a family member is also likely to make a victim impact statement before the judge gives his sentencing decision on Wednesday.
Molloy’s lawyers have suggested that Molloy may get probation, but in handing down his verdict last month, Judge Steven Barrett said he envisioned a prison term. Molloy is currently being held at the Queens House of Detention in Kew Gardens, according to the Department of Corrections.
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Molloy’s lawyer, George Vallario, said the officer’s defense team would not comment on the verdict until after sentencing, but an appeal is likely. Two of Molloy’s attorneys present at the verdict had suggested they believed the officer had become a victim of the political climate. Four officers from a Bronx Street Crime Unit were indicted on murder charges in the shooting of Amadou Diallo shortly before Molloy’s conviction.
Justice Barrett also reserved any comments on the case for the sentencing date, when he is likely to explain what evidence he weighed most heavily in his decision to find Molloy guilty.
Once he receives his sentence for a felony conviction, Molloy will also automatically be dismissed from the NYPD, a department spokesman said.
For the Phelan family, that has brought some justice, they said.
"We’re keeping an open mind. We’re happy that he’s off the force and that no one else is going to get killed," said Martina Boback, Phelan’s sister.