Next month a man who killed two Galway brothers after he lost a bar brawl in Astoria, New York, in 1988, is set to be released from prison. His proposed release date in July 6th 2015 according to New York Department of Correction files
On Halloween night in 1988 Hungarian immigrant Andreas Doczy (51) walked into a Greek restaurant in Astoria ordered a glass of red wine and a fish dinner and said “I just killed a couple of guys. The police are coming to get me.”
Seamus and Padraig Folan, construction workers, who emigrated to New York with eight of their siblings during the 1980s recession were shot at point blank range in the back of the head. The crime was sudden, irrational and violent.
Doczy told the police simply “There was an argument over the old country.”
The testimony from his murder trial explained how the Folan brothers had died but not why.
The police came as he had predicted. Doczy was picked up a block away from the crime, enjoying his dinner. He was charged with criminal possession of a weapon and murder. He never denied his crimes but his case was widely reported by the Associated Press and the New York Times at the time and was a huge story in Ireland. The death of these two men clearly shocked the public.
Doczy’s maximum sentence could have been 50 years for his crimes but his conditional release date is now set for July 6 2015. He is now 78-years-old.
Seamus (38) was in the US ten years and Padraig (27) was two years in the United States. They were working in construction and had come to New York to join their siblings who lived in Queens and The Bronx.
Doczy is from Hungary. He was born in 1937 and was one of the few members of his family to survive as the Eastern Front moved west at the end of World War II. He fled during the anti-communist uprising in 1956, which was crushed by Soviet tanks. Once in the US he joined the Air Force and following five years of service set up his own business servicing printing equipment.
His own lawyer described him as “very much a Cold War guy.''
However all of this background to the men does not explain their actions that night.
James Gasiorowski, a former policeman, was tending bar at McGrath’s, on 30th Avenue, in Astoria. In court, in February 1990, he said that fateful night there were about 10 regulars around the bar including Doczy, the Folan's and another Irishman, Tommy Hughes.
Gasiorowski testified that the Folans and Hughes were sitting at the end of the bar when Doczy walked over.
Hughes told the Irish Voice at the time that Doczy had butted into the conversation and was “very loud.”
The barman said “All of a sudden they started arguing with each other. The Folan brothers told Andy to leave them alone...I went over and told them to stop arguing.”
Despite his intervention soon Doczy returned and the argument was renewed. The barman said the topics being argued included soccer and the relative merits of Hungary and Ireland. He testified that there was a lot of cursing involved and he heard Doczy yell something about ''drunken Irish.''
The AP reported that Richard Piperno, a spokesman for the Queens district attorney testified that the Folan brothers responded. He said “Witnesses say the word 'communist' was being thrown around pretty liberally.”
According to The New York Times reports Doczy acknowledged he had uttered fighting words during an argument over what the Irish should do to oust the British from Northern Ireland. Doczy had called the brothers “communists.”
Padraig Folan landed the first blow. He broke Doczy’s nose, knocking him to the ground. Seamus then kicked him twice in the ribs.
The bartender Gasiorowski broke up the fight.
He testified “I asked Andy if he was okay. He said he was OK and went over to his drink and he said, 'I'm going to blow those guys away.'''
Doczy left the bar and returned half an hour later, shortly after 8pm. By this time Hughes has left just a few minutes before to get a hamburger but the Folan brothers were still drinking. He approached the Galway brothers, there was more arguing and then Doczy pulled out his unlicensed .32-caliber revolver. He shot both brothers in the back of the head.
Before he walked out of McGraths he said “I know, I know I'm going to jail.”
The New York Times reported that according to the prosecutors, Steven Zissou and Phillip Kamaras, the case was straightforward. A man had ''lost a bar fight'' and retaliated by ''cowardly executing'' his enemies.
Doczy’s defense team said there were two alternatives to this. They said Doczy was guilty only of manslaughter as he had acted under “extreme emotional disturbance.” Their other suggestion was that he was not responsible for his actions due to ''mental disease or defect.”
They claimed Doczy had snapped because of “the beating, coupled with coming from a background of oppression.”
Taking the witness stand Doczy recounted the deaths of his mother, brother and sister in a World War II bombing raid in Hungary and his father's death as a soldier in the war. He told of the oppressive limits of his own life under Hungary's postwar Communist regime and of his harrowing escape to the West, past ''the watchtowers, the machine guns, the rows of barbed wire of the Iron Curtain.''
The jury concluded that he be charged with manslaughter.
Following the trial the Folan brother’s sister, Ann, told the press that this insanity defense was of little consolation.
She said “'What happened has changed my attitude about this country.
“It's very hard to get the anger out of you. You keep looking for answers where there are no answers.”
There were heartbreaking scenes in the brother’s native Connemara when the brothers were flown home for burial as their widowed mother Noirin wept and her family gathered around her protectively. Piper Martin O Fatharta played “The Rocks of Bawn and the mass was broadcast live on local radio. The brothers lie buried in Inverin graveyard in Connemara.
Now, according to the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, in less than a month Doczy could be released from Fishkill Correctional Facility, in Beacon, New York having served 25 years for the murders of Padraig and Seamus Folan.