crime and punishment

Queens Woman Found Not Guilty in Murder of Abusive Husband

Barbara Sheehan was found not guilty today in the death of her husband, who was shot eleven times while shaving in 2008. The defense maintained that Sheehan killed the former police sergeant only after he pointed a gun and threatened to kill her if she tried to leave their home. The prosecution called her a pathological liar and suggested she concocted the battered wife narrative after the fact. “I shot until I didn’t feel threatened and he wasn’t screaming,” she said during her testimony, in which she described firing five shots with a .38-caliber revolver and then six more with the Glock 9mm her husband had been holding. In a 911 call made by Sheehan’s sister, a voice can be heard in the background saying, “He was laughing at me. Boom! Boom! Boom!” Sheehan was found guilty of criminal possession of a weapon for using the revolver and faces three and a half to fifteen years in prison.

The couple’s 21-year-old son testified on behalf of his mother at the trial, describing his father and namesake, Raymond Sheen, as an angry man with a horrific temper. “He would beat her, slap her, punch her, kick her, spit on her, throw things at her, tackle her,” the son said during his hour-long testimony. “The physical abuse was sporadic. It would happen numerous times. There were tensions every day. You didn’t want to set him off.” He told the jury that his father would hide his mother’s keys and cell phone when he left the house, and recalled once, at the age of 10, finding his mother on the floor of the kitchen covered in hot pasta sauce.

While on the stand herself, Barbara flinched at the prosecutor’s request that she demonstrate the shooting with the murder weapon. “I’m afraid I’m going to get sick,” Sheehan said. “I don’t want to do it.” She gagged on the stand and cried uncontrollably.

Today in court, Sheehan’s supporters were clad in purple, the color used to signify solidarity with victims of domestic violence.

This post has been updated with additional information.

Sheehan Found Not Guilty [City Room/NYT]
Queens woman found not guilty of murdering her ‘abusive’ ex-cop husband [NYP]

Queens Woman Found Not Guilty in Murder of Abusive Husband