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Milford teen charged with murder of 17-year-old James McGrath identified

The teen is charged with murder in connection with the fatal stabbing of 17-year-old Shelton resident James McGrath.

SHELTON, Conn. — The Milford teen charged with murder in connection to the death of 17-year-old James McGrath has been identified by his attorney. 

Officials said 16-year-old Raúl Valle has been charged with murder and three counts of first-degree assault following the fatal stabbing Saturday in Shelton. The case has been transferred to Milford Superior Court as Valle is expected to be charged as an adult.

Valle turned himself in early Wednesday morning after police searched for him for several days. The suspect is a student at St. Joseph's High School in Trumbull, the school confirmed in a Facebook post.

This judicial marshal's van carried 16-year-old Raul Lito Valle to his court appearance in Derby this morning. His father, also Raul,  mumbled "I'm sorry for the family."

A wake was held Thursday afternoon followed by a Friday funeral. 

RELATED: Lacrosse game played in honor of Shelton teen who was killed

"The St. Joseph High School Community continues to offer solemn prayers for the McGrath family and Fairfield Prep Community as they mourn the unthinkable loss of a son and cherished classmate," the school said in the post. 

Today, the Shelton Police Department arrested a St. Joseph High School student in relation to a fatality at a private...

Posted by St Joseph High School on Wednesday, May 18, 2022

According to the affidavit released by police, the altercation that led to the stabbing appeared to stem from a fight between rival high schools at various parties on Saturday night. It was unclear what started the fight.

Valle and two other teenage suspects were at a party on Lazy Brook Road in Shelton attended by students from St. Joseph’s High School. Witnesses told police a fight broke out and a student from Shelton High School was attacked.

The victim told police that he and his friend then drove over to a second party on Laurel Glen Drive in Shelton, which was attended by Shelton High students.

The apparent quarrel between students from different schools continued in a group text chat where the students were allegedly bad-mouthing each other, a witness told police.

A witness told police Valle and the other two suspects drove over to the party on Laurel Glenn in a Honda Pilot. Two other high school students – a boy and a girl – were also in the SUV. Valle and the girl were dating, according to witnesses.

Valle was allegedly seen flashing a knife in the car when they arrived at the Laurel Glen party, witnesses said. After some yelling back and forth between the two groups, the teens in the Honda left and drove down the road.

When the group in the Honda returned to the party at Laurel Glen, the teen girl in the SUV told police she thought someone threw something at the vehicle. She decided to leave the scene and walked down the street, texting her sister to come to pick her up.

Around that time, according to the affidavit, various partygoers said they tried to de-escalate the situation. A witness told police that Valle was holding a knife in his hand and described it as both a switchblade and a pocketknife. Another witness said someone threw a punch and the fight broke out on the front lawn.

One of the victims, Thomas Connery Jr. told police that one of the suspects said, “We have a knife on us!” Someone else said, “Watch out, they have a knife!”

Witnesses and victims described a chaotic scene to police.

One of the victims was stabbed in his left arm, according to police. Connery, who was trying to break up the fight, said Valle was on him punching him in the leg as he tried to throw him off. During the fight, Connery said he saw McGrath bleeding profusely and fall to the ground. Then he realized he himself had been stabbed.

According to police, Connery’s brother, who was involved in the first fight at the other party, was stabbed three times, one of which caused his lung to collapse.

All the surviving victims identified Valle as the one who stabbed them, according to police.

After the fight, the suspects then left the scene, witnesses said.

The teen girl who left the SUV before the fight told police that the three suspects drove up to her as her sister was picking her up. Valle got out and asked for a ride home and joined them in the car but did not mention the fight, according to the affidavit. The teen told police that when she heard about the stabbing, she texted Valle and asked him if he had anything to do with it, which he allegedly denied.

"Obviously this is an unspeakable tragedy for everyone involved and it would be irresponsible for me to make any comment before I had a chance to examine all the evidence in the case," said Valle's lawyer Jake Donovan.

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The teen was arraigned in New Haven Juvenile Court on Wednesday on one count of murder in the death of McGrath, and three counts of assault as police said he reportedly stabbed three others as well. 

Valle remains held on a $2 million bond. His next court date is June 7 in Milford.

Sources told FOX61 that there may be more arrests. While Shelton police said their investigation remains open, they declined to answer whether they are investigating any adults they may deem responsible, as the sources say alcohol may have been involved.

RELATED: Milford teen charged with murder of 17-year-old James McGrath

A GoFundMe, to help defray funeral costs, has been started by the family and friends of McGrath.

Jennifer Glatz is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. She can be reached at jglatz@fox61.com.  

Tony Terzi is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at tterzi@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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