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Friday, September 23, 2011

[NYPD] Barbara Sheehan's murder trial: "If she doesn't walk, there is no justice."

Barbara Sheehan's murder trial started last week in the State Supreme Court, Queens NY. She's accused of shooting to death her husband Raymond Sheehan, a retired New York City police evidence unit sergeant, after years of abuse.

The abuse can't be denied. Their children, relatives, friends, neighbors, and fellow church members attest to a battered Barbara. A New York Times reporter observed yesterday,

"Still, for all [Prosecutor Debra] Pomodore’s efforts, by Thursday there would be no more than a few people in the courtroom who did not believe that the dead father had been a man of ungoverned furies."

The question for the jury will come down to whether they believe Barbara felt there was an immediate threat to her life.

Lionel (Michael William Lebron) is a former Hillsborough County Florida State Attorney's Office prosecutor and afterwards, a criminal defense trial lawyer. His opinion on the Barbara Sheehan trial.


"If this woman does not walk, completely not guilty, then there's no order in the world, no God, there's no rationale. If ever there was a case that called out for "not guilty" ... this is the one. This case is text book in terms of the horrors that this woman has undergone...

When she sees her husband react in a certain way, to the lay person it may seem like "What's the big deal?" But to HER, she says, "I know what to expect. I've been going through this for 20-something years." NEXT, when the CHILDREN of the "victim" are in support of the assailant, or "murderer" technically, this is a WASH. This tells the judge, this tells the jury, this tells everybody, nobody's really going to be complaining on this one...

The behavior of this man, and he IS on trial, let's make sure we understand this. Normally victims are NOT, but his behavior is on trial only to the extent that it shows why she RECOGNIZED this behavior. Normally this would be irrelevant, it would be kept out, it would be inadmissable. Not in THIS case. This is textbook. If she doesn't walk, there IS no justice....

I would say, and I think what the defense attorney is so astutely doing is he's saying is, "You know, it's very easy for us to sit back in our nice cushy chair and say 'You know the way I would react is..." That's easy. Take this woman who has been traumatized... who LIVED through this, who KNOWS what was going on, who was acting in FEAR of her life -her adreneline is surging. She's thinking, "Oh no - not again." That behavior could give a jury any kind of a leeway in terms of explaining why she did something...

If she doesn't walk, fffft.

I'm not going to bet anything but trust me, put your money on her."


The case is being argued on a battered-woman defense. I'd feel more sure of a fairest-possible trial if there was also an expert in officer-involved domestic violence testifying too.

From what's been presented it appears that Barbara was tormented full bad-cop style - being told that she could not call the police like most other victims can, threatened at home with gruesome crime scene photos like most victims aren't, her life repeatedly threatened by a tactically trained police evidence specialist who was literally always armed with killing force - knives or firearms. The general population has no idea how different that world can be, and either does the jury unless someone were to tell them.

Barbara's world. Beatings, threats, and emotional cruelty for years at the hands of a cop-husband practiced at intimidating even the biggest of bad guys, assured that her exits were blocked because of his job. Unable to protect her children from the chill. A ring of fire no-exit life full of special horrors and powers that the regular batterer does not possess.

The support that has shown up at the courthouse everyday for Barbara - and in behalf of all domestic violence victims - is strong.

Let whatever is true, prevail.

I am praying.


New York Daily News
By Thomas Zambito
Thursday, September 8th 2011, 8:30 PM
[Excerpts] ..."She was defending herself on the morning of Feb. 18, 2008," said Sheehan's lawyer, Michael Dowd. But during jury selection, Queens prosecutor Debra Pomodore bristled at suggestions that this was a domestic violence case... [Barbara] Sheehan, 50, and her two children are expected to testify about decades of physical abuse inflicted on her by former NYPD Sgt. Raymond Sheehan during a 24-year marriage... Sheehan says her husband bloodied her nose the day before the slaying when she refused to accompany him on a Florida vacation. While in a hospital emergency room, Sheehan claims she received a threatening phone call from her husband promising to track down her father and "go down in glory" if she called the cops... [Full article here]

September 9, 2011 1:28 PM
[Excerpts] The murder trial for a woman accused of shooting and killing her husband, a retired New York City police sergeant, began Friday in State Supreme Court in Queens. The jury was told by both sides that Barbara Sheehan did kill her husband Raymond at their Howard Beach home on Feb. 18, 2008 by using two different guns, including his own weapon. While the prosecution described the killing as an execution, defense attorney Michael Dowd, called it self defense. “That morning, he actually pointed the automatic at her and said he was going to kill her,” Dowd said. He claims the former police sergeant had beaten his wife for years, and she had repeatedly intervened to keep him from hurting their two children... “If I didn’t do it, I know it would have happened the other way,” she told D’Auria in March 2008. ”If I could go back, I would take it back and try to do something differently”... Sheehan was surrounded in court by two dozen relatives and friends who wore purple ribbons against domestic violence... [Full article here]

By Thomas Zambito
September 10th 2011
[Excerpts] ...Defense lawyer Michael Dowd's opening statement marked the first public claim that Raymond Sheehan, 49, was armed and threatening his wife, Barbara, when she shot him to death on the morning of Feb. 18, 2008... Beset by a marriage that had devolved into "misery and fear," Barbara Sheehan was carrying her husband's loaded service revolver when she tried to slip out of the house following a raucous argument, Dowd said... The shooting was the culmination of nearly two decades of physical and emotional abuse that Barbara Sheehan, 50, says she suffered at the hands of a husband who had grown increasingly violent and paranoid... "It was a life of misery and fear," Dowd said of his client's marital situation immediately prior to the killing. Sheehan sat at the defense table weeping as Dowd recalled the details of brutal beatings her husband allegedly gave her in front of their two children. In the audience, Barbara Sheehan's friends and family wore purple ribbons in a show of support for her claim that she was the victim of domestic violence... Instead of dialing 911 after the slaying, Barbara Sheehan called a sister who lived nearby. When a UPS driver rushed to the scene amid the commotion, Sheehan had the two guns at her side, Pomodore said. "He's dead," she told the UPS driver, the prosecutor said. "I killed him. He's upstairs." [Full article here]

MATTER OF WIFE & DEATH: Abuse defense in hubby gundown
New York Post
By Christina Carrega
September 10, 2011
[Excerpts] ...Barbara Sheehan, 50, suffered years of brutal abuse at the hands of her husband, Raymond, and she only shot him after he first pulled a gun on her inside their Howard Beach home, lawyer Michael Dowd said in Queens Supreme Cour... According to prosecutors, Sheehan murdered her defenseless husband -- shooting him with two guns as he shaved on the morning of Feb. 18, 2008 in the bathroom of their home... [Full article here]

By Thomas Zambito
Monday, September 12th 2011, 8:23 PM
[Excerpts] An ex-Marine turned UPS driver recalled for jurors Monday the dramatic moments he came face-to-face with a Queens school secretary who'd just gunned down her cop husband. "Drop the guns!," William Shulken said he shouted to Barbara Sheehan. Shulken had been out on a delivery the morning of Feb. 18, 2008 when he heard two women scream "She needs help!"... The Gulf War vet's first instinct was to get hold of the guns before someone else got killed... After Sheehan dropped a 9-mm. Glock and a .38-caliber revolver that belonged to Raymond Sheehan, 49 -- Shulken stood on the two guns and waited for cops. Sheehan, meanwhile, fell to her knees in the foyer. Inside, Sheehan's mother and sister tended to Sheehan and appeared to be speaking to someone on the phone, Shulken testified. Shulken grabbed the phone and dialed 911... [Full article here]

New York Times
By Dan Bilefsky
September 18, 2011
[Excerpts] She stood outside the courthouse, emotionally spent but resolute, on trial for killing her husband ... “He would have killed me,” Barbara Sheehan said outside the State Supreme Court building in Queens. “I am being made the victim twice”... Her lawyer said that her two grown children would back her up and testify in court this week about Mr. Sheehan’s relentless abuse... The case has generated national attention, and legal experts consider it a test of the so-called battered-woman defense. With this strategy, the history of an abused woman accused of assault or homicide is examined to help explain her mental state and to account for the emotional paralysis that prompts some victims of abuse to remain with their abusers. New York State’s self-defense law justifies the use of lethal force in response to an immediate threat to life... Ms. Sheehan, during a tearful 2009 appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” declared that her marriage had been abusive. She has since become something of a symbol for battered women, and many of her supporters in court wore purple ribbons in solidarity with victims of domestic violence. Ms. Sheehan, 50, who is free on $1 million bail, said her husband had routinely taunted her that he could kill her and cover it up with impunity because of the investigative skills he had acquired as a crime-scene officer... Ms. Sheehan, a churchgoing mother of two who wears sober gray suits, has cut a striking figure during the trial. Sometimes she can be seen stoically scribbling notes during witness testimony; other times she sobs openly and clasps her hands as if in prayer... Ms. Sheehan’s family said she often appeared anxious and would show up at family events heavily made up to cover up bruises and black eyes. Mr. Sheehan would also demand that his wife show him cash register receipts from her trips to the store, so that he could monitor the timing of her every move, Anne Calise, Ms. Sheehan’s cousin, said. “We always thought she was the one we would find dead”... Prosecutors typically reject the battered-woman defense by arguing that a person in Ms. Sheehan’s position had the opportunity to seek help... [Full article here]

BARBARA SHEEHAN, HOWARD BEACH WOMAN WHO SHOT POLICE LT. HUBBY, TESTIFIES: Says She Suffered Years Of Emotional, Physical Abuse At Hands Of Her Spouse
September 19, 2011
[Excerpts]... With her daughter by her side, Barbara Sheehan walked into the State Supreme Court building in Kew Gardens and told reporters, “I feel fine, gonna tell the truth today”... In court Monday, wringing her hands and at times crying, Sheehan nervously described years of physical, emotional and sexual abuse she said she endured at the hand of her husband... Sheehan: “I could see in his eyes. He was going to kill me. He was going to kill me. I shot the gun ’cause I was afraid he was gonna get up and he was going to kill me. I stopped firing when I didn’t feel threatened by him any longer. He’d hold a gun to my head, he said he’d kill me, kill my children and go down in glory,” Sheehan said... Her 25-year-old daughter is also expected to testify. “I’m fully behind my mom and we’re just going to tell the truth,” Jennifer Sheehan said... Wearing purple ribbons, family and friends have shown up to court daily in support of the woman who they said was only trying to protect herself. [Full article here]

New York Times
Dan Bilefsky
September 19, 2011
[Excerpts] ...“He said he was going to kill me, that he was going to go down in glory,” said the secretary, Barbara Sheehan... “You could see it in his eyes — his eyes were glazed over, there was no emotion, they were blank. I knew he was going to kill me right then”... Ms. Sheehan told the jury that on the day of the shooting, in February 2008, she took the loaded revolver that belonged to her husband from a bedroom, shoved money into her bra and tried to sneak out of the house after a fierce argument over the planned trip to Florida. “I was so scared; I wanted to get away,” she said. “I didn’t want him to hurt me or my kids anymore”... But during cross examination, the prosecutor, Debra Pomodore, portrayed Ms. Sheehan as a cold-blooded executioner, asking how it was that Ms. Sheehan, who is free on $1 million in bail, continued to live in the Howard Beach home where she had shot Mr. Sheehan 11 times... She said Mr. Sheehan, a former police sergeant who had been a crime scene investigator, had routinely shown her gruesome photographs of dead bodies, warning her that her fate would be the same if she reported her abuse to police. She said he taunted her about trying to call the police, saying he was the police... Initially, she said, he would hit her in places like her back and legs so that the bruises would not be publicly visible. After a few years, she said, he stopped trying to conceal the abuse and would punch her in the face and berate her in public. She recalled how, during a vacation to Jamaica in August 2007, he smashed her head against a cinder-block wall; she said her head had bled so badly that she had to seek medical attention. On another vacation, to Lake George in 2002, she said, he gave her two black eyes after she urged him to hurry when he was late for a dinner. [Full article here]

PROSECUTOR HONES IN ON SEX LIFE DURING HOUSEWIFE'S MURDER TRIAL: Barbara Sheehan shot and killed her husband Ray, claiming self-defense; people who know the couple support her and her story
September 21, 2011
[Excerpts] The murder trial of 50-year-old Barbara Sheehan heated up Tuesday as the prosecutor hammered away at the Howard Beach mother of two, trying to chip away at her credibility. Subjects from guns and violence to dirty laundry and kinky sex were covered in the wide ranging testimony... Tuesday, the prosecutor delved into Sheehan's sex life... "It's no secret that Raymond ran around in diapers saying 'mommy' and that he was doing stuff with transvestites and transsexuals. But it is despicable for the Prosecutor to ask my client if she participated, when she knows full well she didn't. You have to draw the line somewhere," said Sheehan's attorney Michael Dowd. Sheehan was surrounded by three dozen supporters--family, friends and neighbors--mostly wearing purple ribbons and clothing, showing their solidarity for the cause of domestic violence... "All of our kids grew up together," family friend Dominic Dileo said. "I coached with Ray... It's a tough situation,... You don't want no one to be killed, but you don't want no one abused, either." Neighbors who spoke to PIX11 were all supportive of Barbara. "At the parish, I would see her with bruises, a broken arm, broken noses. How many times can you fall?" a parishioner told PIX11 News...... If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, you can call New York City's 24-hour Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-621-HOPE (4673).... [Full article here] [cr]

New York Times
By Dan Bilefsky
Published: September 20, 2011
[Excerpts] Prosecutors sought on Tuesday to portray Barbara Sheehan, the Queens woman accused of killing her husband, as having been a deeply unhappy wife who resented her sexless marriage and now was grossly exaggerating what she has called decades of physical abuse... Debra Pomodore, worked to build a case that Ms. Sheehan had shot her husband 11 times in their home simply because she despised him... She said Ms. Sheehan had admitted she was clumsy and accident-prone, suggesting that some of her injuries may have been self-inflicted... Pointing to a series of inconsistencies in Ms. Sheehan’s testimony, the prosecutor said she had never reported the abuse to the police. She also cited a Dec. 20, 2007, phone call to a domestic violence hot line following a heated argument at a family event. In the call, Ms. Pomodore contended, Ms. Sheehan said that there had been no physical abuse in her relationship with her husband... Legal experts consider the case a test of the so-called battered-woman defense. With this strategy, the defendant’s lawyer seeks to play up a history as a victim of abuse to help explain the emotional paralysis that prompts some victims to stay with their abusers. New York State’s self-defense law justifies the use of lethal force in response to an immediate threat to life... “Did you hate him?” the prosecutor asked. “No,” Ms. Sheehan said, “I feared him.” [Full article here]

ANTI-DOMESTIC VIOLENCE GROUPS RALLY AROUND MURDER DEFENDANT: Barbara Sheehan claims her 2008 murder of her husband was in self defense; dozens sporting purple support her in court
James Ford
September 21, 2011
[Excerpts] Barbara Sheehan, the mother of two who is on trial for killing her retired cop husband, has developed a legion of supporters in and out of the courtroom who are united in a cause and a color. A variety of domestic violence advocacy groups learned about Sheehan's case shortly after it opened three years ago, and have rallied behind her claim of self defense. In the Queens Supreme Court courtroom, about half of the full-to-capacity seating is occupied by people wearing purple. It's the color anti-domestic violence groups have adopted to represent their cause... "To let the public, the judge, the jury, the prosecutor know there's a lot of support for victims of domestic violence," Josie White, an advocate from the organization STEPS To End Family Violence, said about why people are at the trial showing their colors... Even she was impressed by the daily turnout of Sheehan family members, friends and neighbors who come to court every day sporting purple ribbons, scarves, neckties, blouses -- even purple fingernails... And it's not just people who know Barbara Sheehan who are in the courtroom. "I'm from Northern California," Tanya Brannan said in an interview. The Santa Rosa attorney is writing and filming a documentary about police officers who abuse their wives and family. Brannan and a fellow producer from Philadelphia alternate days attending trial. Wearing a knit purple ribbon on her shirt pocket, Brannan, an attorney, said that she has attended trials wearing purple for years. "To.. stand with those women and to let them know you're not alone, I believe you and you're not alone"... Also in court daily is murder victim Ray Sheehan's twin brother, Vincent, and other relatives of the gunned down ex-cop... [Full article here]

New York Daily News
By Thomas Zambito
September 21st 2011
[Excerpts] ...Barbara Sheehan broke into tears on the witness stand as she squared off with a prosecutor who repeatedly requested she pick up the weapon and demonstrate how she killed her spouse in February 2008... Sheehan admitted later that after the insurance money was paid, her son Raymond gave her a $200,000 check to satisfy a home equity loan. And her daughter Jennifer paid her more than $100,000 to pay off other debts. "That's what my children chose to do with it," Sheehan testified. At one point, Pomodore also played a 911 call made by Sheehan's sister moments after Raymond Sheehan was slain while shaving in the upstairs bathroom of the couple's Howard Beach home. In the background of the call, Sheehan cries hysterically, shouting, "He was laughing at me!" She then makes the sound of a gun going off. "That's not my voice," Sheehan interjected from the witness stand, shaking her head no. [Full article here]

New York Times
By Dan Bilefsky
September 21, 2011
[Excerpts] The 21-year-old son of a Queens mother on trial for killing her husband described his father in court on Wednesday as a terrifying and volatile man who had threatened to kill him, his sister and his mother, and whose abuse of his mother ranged from belittling her to pounding her head with his fists. The son, Raymond Sheehan, a physiologist who works with autistic children at a kindergarten in Brooklyn, recounted how his father, a former police sergeant, would explode into sudden rages, calling Raymond’s mother, Barbara Sheehan, “stupid,” “fat” and “worthless,” punching her in the face and threatening the whole family with death if they reported his actions to friends or the police. “He would beat her, slap her, punch her, kick her, spit on her, throw things at her, tackle her,” Mr. Sheehan said during an hour of emotional but resolute testimony after which he broke down in tears... Legal experts said the testimony of her children, Raymond and Jennifer, 25, a nurse, would be crucial in determining whether the jury would regard her as credible... Mr. Sheehan described the Sheehan residence, in Howard Beach, as a place where his father ruled with an iron will, exploding angrily when Barbara Sheehan did seemingly innocuous things like moving a book in the living room. He said his father would confiscate his mother’s keys and cellphone when he left the house... Mr. Sheehan’s testimony came after the prosecutor, Debra Pomodore, asked Ms. Sheehan to re-enact the shooting by picking up one of the weapons she had used. On the witness stand, Ms. Sheehan sobbed loudly and clutched her chest... [Full article here]

MURDERED FATHER CALLED ABUSIVE FETISHIST WHO LIKED TRANSVESTITE PROSTITUTES, BABY-PLAY: His wife Barbara is on trial for the ex-cop's killing, but his children and friends paint an unflattering picture of him, PIX11
James Ford
September 22, 2011
[Excerpts] — Barbara Sheehan is on trial for killing her ex-cop husband Raymond, but just who was the retired NYPD evidence sergeant? When his children testified this week in their mother's defense, the picture they painted of him was by no means flattering. Comments from other people who knew him fill in a background of threatening behavior. "I'm just glad that it's over, and they're free now," said the best friend of Barbara and Ray Sheehan's daughter Jennifer... Other people who know the family were reluctant to be quoted, but some family friends said on background that after the Sheehans' second child, Raymond Jr., was born in 1990, the husband changed for the worst, and that's when physical, emotional and psychological abuse of his wife and children began... "She'd have broken arms, broken noses, bruises. How many times can you break something?" the woman [a parishioner at their church], who would not give her name, asked... [Full article here]

NBC New York
By John Noel
Thursday, Sep 22, 2011
The son of a Queens woman who shot her husband to death in their home testified at her trial Thursday that the family endured years of abuse from him. "My mom was abused my entire life, and my father tortured her," Raymond Sheehan told NBC New York outside court. "She protected her own life in doing what she did"... Prosecutors introduced a letter the younger man had written when he was about 14 years old that told of his rage at his father, touched off because he believed his dad was having an affair... Sheehan was shocked when Assistant District Attorney Debra Pomodore handed him the document. He read the first line aloud, then put his head in his hands and wept, his lanky shoulders shaking, and could not continue reading. Pomodore asked about the father's behavior outside of the home, and Sheehan said he was gregarious and outgoing and kind — until they were alone. "He acted like the perfect father, but when we got in the car, he was always berating me," he said... His 25-year-old sister, Jennifer Joyce, also testified Thursday and echoed her brother's testimony of abuse and countless instances of her father hitting her mother. Joyce, recently married, now lives in San Diego and works as a nurse. "He would go into these periods where he would have a blank stare," she said of her father. "He was totally out of control"... [Full article here]

New York Post
By Christina Carrega
eptember 22, 2011
[Excerpts] Years before a Queens woman shot and killed her allegedly abusive husband, their son had secretly wished his dad dead for treating her so badly, the young man said in court today. Raymond Sheehan told jurors at his mother’s murder trial that he was upset after discovering that his father, who is also named Raymond, may have been cheating on Barbara Sheehan. Young Raymond was so upset that he typed an email filled with F-bombs that cursed out his father for being unfaithful. Raymond saved the email as a draft in May 2004, but never sent it.. With his defendant mother looking on, the 21-year-old wept as a prosecutor read from the email, which ends with his prophetic wish: ”I hope he f---ing dies"... "He acted like the perfect father, but when we got in the car, he was always berating me," he said... Pomodore also shared pictures of seemingly happier times... [Full article here]

CBS New York
September 22, 2011 1:53 PM
[Excerpts] Testimony continued Thursday in the trial of a Queens woman accused of killing her ex-cop husband... Raymond Sheehan, 21, says he went to school hours away because he needed to leave the tense home... On Wednesday, he testified his father had always treated his mother badly and that he too lived in fear of his father’s rages. When asked by prosecutors on Thursday why he went to college in Connecticut if he was so worried about his mother’s safety, the 21-year-old said it was because he felt he would kill himself if he lived at home. He said guns were a constant presence in the house and that his father would take his Glock handgun into the bathroom with him, where Barbara Sheehan testified she killed her husband... “She was always very nervous, very jumpy and jittery,” he said of his mother. “You never wanted to set him off. … Anything would set him off.” Prosecutors sought to show that on the day of the shooting on Feb. 18, 2008, Sheehan was not fearful for her life. She proofed her son’s school paper, drank coffee and made travel arrangements for a trip to Florida... He dragged her out of bed the morning of the shooting and threw her out of the house in her pajamas, saying she couldn’t come back until she agreed to go with him, she testified. She stood outside for nearly an hour in the winter cold before agreeing to come... Prosecutors asked repeatedly whether Sheehan ever called 911 or a domestic violence hotline in the hours leading to the shooting. The answer was always no... Sheehan’s daughter Jennifer, 25, has also said their father was abusive... [Full article here]

The New York Times
By Jim Dwyer
September 22, 2011
[Excerpts] The question was not quite a taunt, but kind of an eyebrow hoisted noisily, theatrically and tactically in a Queens courtroom. “Now,” said Debra Pomodore, a senior prosecutor, “you were saying you were afraid for your mother, is that what you said?” “Yes,” said Raymond Sheehan, 21, a thin cello of a man, whose every note of testimony sounded clear, mournful and resonant... Their son, Raymond, and daughter, Jennifer Joyce, both testified that the father’s chronic rages and beatings of their mother had turned their home into a house of Gothic horror... Four days into the defense case, the prosecutor has held fast to a vision of family dynamics in which the dead man really wasn’t all that scary and awful... Still, for all Ms. Pomodore’s efforts, by Thursday there would be no more than a few people in the courtroom who did not believe that the dead father had been a man of ungoverned furies. A family friend who had always thought Ray Sheehan was a “really good guy” recalled that on a vacation in Jamaica, the Sheehans showed up a half-hour late for dinner. “She had a towel full of blood on her head, that’s what I saw,” said Ron Ferrara, a retired sanitation worker. “Ray said she slipped and fell in the bathroom. Ray did all the talking.” Couldn’t it have been a little cut that just bled profusely, the prosecutor asked. “I couldn’t say a little cut would have did it,” Mr. Ferrara said. Betsy Torres, who worked alongside Ms. Sheehan in the office of a public school, testified that less than an hour before the shooting, Ms. Sheehan came to her house and said over and over “that she was scared and he was going to kill her”... Ms. Joyce, 25, a chemotherapy nurse in San Diego, said her earliest memory was of being in bed at age 4, shaking, as she listened to her father rage at her mother, slamming her into walls... [Full article here]

I WANTED DAD &#$%ING DEAD: Son confronted with raging e-mail at Sheehan trial
New York Post
By Christina Carrega
September 23, 2011
[Excerpts] ...Sheehan’s son [Raymond] testified that he went away to college in Connecticut because life at home was unbearable. His dad berated him mercilessly and said he’d amount to nothing - like his mother, the son testified. “Toward the end of high school, I seriously had thoughts about suicide,” Sheehan said. “I couldn’t live with my father any longer. I was afraid I’d act on it.” Pomodore, meanwhile, showed jurors pictures of seemingly happy times in the Sheehan family, including photos from Raymond’s prom and a picture of his parents holding hands. The defendant’s daughter, Jennifer Joyce, 25, ended the day’s testimony by recounting abuse she said she witnessed as far back as 20 years ago. “He’d tell her he was going to kill her all the time, at least once a week,” Joyce said. “We never knew what the right thing was to do in the house. Anything would set him off.” [Full article here]


BETWEEN SOBS, A STORY ABOUT KILLING HUSBAND: Barbara Sheehan testifies about the shooting and years of alleged abuse
Queens Chronicle
by Anna Gustafson, Editor
Thursday, September 22, 2011 12:00 pm
Updated: 2:35 pm, Thu Sep 22, 2011.

Her hands clasped as if in prayer, Barbara Sheehan looked out at a courtroom that had been transformed into a sea of purple worn by family and friends — the color representing domestic violence awareness —and began to sob, her shoulders heaving as the Howard Beach woman spoke about the morning she shot her husband, Raymond Sheehan, 11 times.

It was cold that day, Feb. 18, 2008, with a mist of rain coating the world outside the Sheehans’ home, where the couple had lived for much of their 24-year marriage, Sheehan testified during her trial at the Queens Supreme courthouse in Kew Gardens on Monday. Inside this house, Barbara Sheehan said she was trying to figure out how to escape from her husband, a retired NYPD sergeant, whom she believed was planning to soon kill her after two decades of alleged abuse that she testified included punching her in the face, smashing her head into cinder blocks while on vacation, dumping boiling marinara sauce on her and threatening to kill her children and other members of her family if she ever told anyone what was going on.

That February morning, Barbara Sheehan said she told her husband she would not accompany him on a planned vacation to Florida because she feared for her life. Allegedly enraged, Raymond Sheehan kicked his wife out of the house in her pajamas and told her she could not come back in until she decided to fly later that day with him to Florida, she said during her nearly six hours of testimony on Monday.

“I was out there for 45 minutes, an hour,” Sheehan said. “I was wet and cold and he kept screaming that if I didn’t go to Florida, I couldn’t come in. So I finally said I’d go to Florida.”

Upon entering the home where Barbara Sheehan, 50, raised two children, Jennifer, 25, and Raymond Jr., 21, she said her husband put a gun to her head and forced her to change their reservations so their return flight was from Fort Meyers instead of West Palm Beach —where her family lived.

“He put his gun to my head and said if I didn’t call, he was gonna kill me,” Sheehan said.

After she changed the reservation, Raymond Sheehan went into the bathroom, one of his guns in tow, Barbara Sheehan said.

“I told him I had to get dog food,” Sheehan said. “… I asked him to open the door, and he had a gun in his hand, and he said, ‘You’re not going anywhere.’ I could see his eyes, and they were just glazed over. There was nothing in them. They were just blank, and it was so scary. I knew he was going to kill me.”

After her husband pointed the gun at her, Barbara Sheehan said she ran into the bedroom to grab the money she had been saving in order to leave her husband and saw another of his guns, a .38-caliber revolver, there. She said she picked it up because she believed her husband might not shoot her if she also was armed.

“As I got to the bathroom door, he picked up the gun again and aimed it at my head and said he was going to kill me,” Sheehan said. “I shot the gun … He kept screaming, ‘I’m gonna f-ing kill you,’ and he was reaching for the gun.”

Saying she did not know how many times she had fired, Sheehan said she stopped shooting “when I didn’t feel threatened by him anymore.”

Barbara Sheehan shot her husband 11 times — five times with the revolver and six more with his Glock.

She said she didn’t want to kill him but “just wanted him to stop, to not kill me.”

First questioned by her attorney, Michael Dowd, and then by Assistant District Attorney Debra Pomodore, who is prosecuting the case, Sheehan testified about a marriage that she said was characterized by years of fear, of a husband whom she met when she was 17 years old and who, after the birth of their son in 1990, she said would threaten to kill her children and her family members, many of whom lived within several blocks of their Howard Beach home, if she ever mentioned the alleged abuse.

He was a man, she said, who would splash boiling marinara sauce on her after deciding he didn’t want to eat what she had prepared for dinner, shove her to the ground and step on her, and make her watch him as he dressed up in women’s underwear, skirts and tights.

“He’d bring pictures home of difference crime scenes, of bodies, and he’d say that’s what I would look like if I told anybody,” Sheehan told the jurors.

While on vacation in 2007 with their son and friends, Barbara Sheehan said her husband smashed her head against the wall after he became irate that she had woken him up to go to dinner.

“He chased me down when I was trying to leave the room,” Sheehan said. “He beat me in the room. He grabbbed the back of my hair… and kept beating my head on the cinder block walls of the hotel room. He cut my head open. I was bleeding all over.”

Raymond Sheehan then told those he was with that his wife had “slipped and fell in the shower,” she testified.

When Pomodore, the prosecutor, began to question Sheehan on Monday, she emphasized that the Howard Beach resident had numerous family members and friends living close to her and then went on to say that Raymond Sheehan had “always helped financially,” including to purchase Barbara Sheehan presents, to fund vacations and to put their two children through private school.

“He provided health insurance for you and your children,” Pomodore said. “You had a very lovely home up until you shot and killed her your husband.”

Pomodore went on to describe Raymond Sheehan as a family man who rarely missed a game of football that his son would play while the quarterback at St. Francis Prep in Fresh Meadows.

The ADA noted Sheehan had coached his son in several sports, including baseball and hockey.

When Pomodore asked if Sheehan had often gone to his daughter’s cheerleading events, Barbara Sheehan said he had gone to only one of her games.

Both of her children have appeared in court with Barbara Sheehan since she was arrested. Her daughter told The New York Times that she went to her father’s funeral because she “just wanted to see for myself that he was dead.” [LINK]
[police officer involved domestic violence oidv intimate partner violence ipv abuse law enforcement public safety lethal fatality fatalities new yokr state politics self defense]


  1. With all that purple in the court room I was hoping that there would be reports - from the people. It's the end of week two and I can only find main media updates. Maybe I should search harder. There must be something.

    By Colleen Long
    September 24, 2011 1:17 PM
    NEW YORK — The day Barbara Sheehan shot her husband to death, she said, she was trying to leave him. She had hidden cash...

    September 26, 2011
    Jennifer Joyce can finally tell the story of how, and why, her mother Barbara Sheehan killed her husband Raymond, the father of her two children. "It was a huge relief," Joyce said of at last having her father out of their lives. "It sounds horrible to say that, but it was true"... "I just knew. I just knew my father would kill my mother," said Joyce. Joyce testified about the constant verbal and physical assaults her mother suffered, how the father would turn his anger on his children as well, and that when their mother intervened, the result would be a barrage of punches, kicks, slaps and other torments. "She always had bruises on her face, her body. It was hard for me to see, and ultimately made me more afraid of my father," recalled Joyce of even her earliest years... Even after her father's death, Joyce said irrational fear lingered on. She refused to go to his funeral, but briefly went to his wake. "I had to step in and see him for myself. Because when you live with a monster like that for years I needed to see it for myself - that he was dead.",0,5879212.story

    New York Daily News
    September 26th 2011, 6:18 PM
    A Queens school secretary on trial for the murder of her ex-cop hubby more than once showed up to work with black eyes and bruises on her arms, a co-worker told jurors Monday... Also Monday, Sheehan's son-in-law, Navy pilot Jesse Joyce, recalled that Raymond Sheehan, a former NYPD sergeant, had verbally abused his wife in the backseat of a car...

    By Kirstin Cole
    September 28, 2011
    [Excerpts] The prosecution in the Barbara Sheehan murder trial brought forward its last witness... The prosecution's approach was to focus heavily on technical testimony. Detective Garcia, a forensic computer expert, was on the stand Wednesday testifying to exactly what was happening on the Sheehan home computer in the hours before Raymond's Sheehan's death... "I think a mom grammatically correcting her son's religion paper is pretty normal," said Jennifer Joyce, Barbara's daughter...

    PROVING BARBARA SHEEHAN MURDERED EX-COP HUSBAND MAY BE UPHILL BATTLE: Sheehan admits to killing her husband of 25 years, but proving it was not self defense may be a big challenge
    James Ford
    September 28, 2011
    [Excerpts] ...On Wednesday, prosecutors tried to rebut Sheehan's defense with expert testimony. As a legal expert points out, however, the prosecutor faces a challenge to succeed, and Sheehan's many supporters in court say the prosecutor failed... As James Cohen, a Fordham Law School professor who has himself successfully defended a battered woman murder case, points out, it will be difficult for the prosecutor to prove that a quarter century of testified abuse by Raymond Sheehan was not reason to believe that Barbara Sheehan needed to strike back in order to save her life...



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