By Patrick Markey
Richard Molloy, the New York Police officer accused of killing Derry native Hessy Phelan in a Bronx apartment in 1996, is scheduled to appear in court Thursday as a judge is expected to set a final trial date.
Molloy will appear in Bronx Supreme Court before a judge who will finalize negotiations over what evidence can appear in the trial. The Bronx officer will then go before a trial judge who will set a date for the non-jury proceedings to begin.
It has been almost three years since Phelan was shot and killed after leaving a Bronx bar with Molloy. Phelan died from a single gunshot wound fired from Molloy’s .38-caliber service revolver. Molloy’s defense team have contended that Phelan killed himself using the officer’s gun. Phelan’s family and assistant district attorney, Brian Sullivan, who is prosecuting the case, charge that Molloy pulled the trigger after he fought with the Irishman.
Molloy, who is charged with second-degree murder, is currently free on bail. He is on modified duty with the New York Police Department, which means he has handed in his service weapon and police identification. Phelan served 10 years in the Maze prison before coming to the United States and finding work as a house painter.
Over the last two and a half years, the case has meandered through the state’s legal system. Recently, the prosecution has fought to introduce as evidence allegations of drunken gunplay from Molloy’s past — incidents they say show the officer’s reckless behavior with firearms.
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That process has taken its toll on Phelan’s mother, Anna, her family said. Last week, her doctor ordered her not to return to the United States from Derry for the trial because of her health. Martina Boback, Phelan’s sister, who lives in Connecticut, said her mother’s health had deteriorated seriously while waiting for word on the trial date.
Molloy’s lawyer, George Vallerio, said this week he hoped that a final trial date would be established on Thursday to bring an end to the waiting for both families.