By Patrick Markey
The trial of Richard Molloy, the New York police officer accused of killing Derry native Hessy Phelan three years ago has been set back to the first week of March.
Molloy had been set to appear in Bronx State Supreme Court on Feb. 22, but the trial has been moved back a week to March 2, officials said.
Molloy is accused of shooting Phelan with his service revolver inside a Bronx apartment after the two men allegedly argued. Phelan, a former INLA member 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.
The prosecution alleges that Molloy shoved his revolver into Phelan’s face and shot him through the left eye as the Irishman sat on a sofa. They have argued that the angle of the bullet wound makes it impossible for Phelan to have killed himself.
Molloy’s defense attorney, George Vallerio, charges that Phelan snatched Molloy’s gun out of its holster as the officer reached over to switch off the TV, then shot himself before Molloy could stop him.
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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 helping a despondent and drunken acquaintance.