Jury selection date set in Jimmy McGrath murder; defendant wants new attorney

Raul Valle is accused of stabbing and killing Jimmy McGrath, 17, at a party in Shelton in May 2022.

Marissa Alter

May 30, 2024, 5:15 PM

Updated 15 days ago


Jury selection is set for Sept. 18 in the murder trial of a Milford teen accused of killing a Fairfield Prep student after a judge denied a motion for the defendant’s attorneys to withdraw from the case.
Raul “Lito” Valle, now 18, returned to Milford Superior Court Thursday to request the judge discharge his current counsel. Valle is accused of stabbing Jimmy McGrath, 17, at a party in Shelton in May 2022. Valle was 16 years old at the time but charged as an adult. He’s been represented by the law firm Pattis & Paz.
“I don't want their representation anymore,” Valle told Judge Kevin Russo in court. “I filed that a while ago, and I was waiting for them to put the motion forward.” Valle said he’s spoken to other attorneys but was waiting for Pattis & Paz to refund his retainer before hiring someone new.
“Without disclosing too much attorney-client communication, we were informed by Mr. Valle that we are being discharged as counsel,” said Chris DeMatteo, an attorney with the firm. “We have not received an appearance in lieu or any contact from a new attorney.”
That concerned the prosecution, who requested Russo reject the request until Valle has new counsel. The judge agreed.
“I have to hear grounds sufficient to grant the motion. I haven't heard them,” Russo ruled, noting Valle’s trial is supposed to start in less than four months. “I don't want to move that date."
Russo also pointed out that Sept. 18 was specifically given to accommodate Valle’s current lawyers.
“The Pattis law firm often is committed to other courts going forward in the future, and we had asked for a date where they would not be committed in a different jurisdiction,” Russo said. “Mr. Valle is entitled to have his day in court as are the victims in this case, and it's my job as the docket manager to make sure we have strict adherence to that schedule unless and until a different attorney files an appearance.”
After court, the McGrath family’s attorney said they were pleased with the judge’s decision.
“The family is concerned about the timeliness of this trial. We know that the wheels of justice can move slowly, and we understand that defendants have rights, but my clients want justice,” attorney Michael Rosnick told News 12.
Rosnick also said he anticipates any new attorney hired by Valle will ask to push jury selection.
“The judge has to weigh the interest of the state, the community and the McGrath family versus the defendant's rights as well, so that's up to the discretion of Judge Russo,” Rosnick stated. “We hope that he'll make his best effort to keep the trial date or keep it as very close to the current trial date as possible.”
Rosnick also said that for the family, justice in the criminal case means a conviction or an agreed upon plea deal where Valle goes to prison for a period of time and “is not a threat to others in the community."
Last November, Valle rejected a plea deal that called for a 40-year sentence.
He’s free on a $2 million bond but remains on house arrest.
McGrath’s parents have also filed two wrongful death lawsuits. One names Valle, his parents and several minors. The other is against the owners of the home where their son was killed.

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