The Queens woman who was acquitted of second-degree murder for killing her abusive, retired cop husband spoke out yesterday. Barbara Sheehan told reporters, "No victory right now. Somebody’s dead. I can’t say anything due to the case," and also said, "There are really no winners. I don't know what to say."
Sheehan admitted to shooting her husband Raymond 11 times with two guns, claiming that he was threatening to kill her, a threat that seemed to grow more real after years of an abusive marriage. The Queens DA's office said that no matter the danger, she should have called 911, suggesting she had plotted to kill her husband for his life insurance and out of resentment for his desire for kinky sex with other couples. Sheehan, who maintained that her husband insinuated that his past as a police officer would make it difficult for anyone to believe her stories of abuse, was found guilty of criminal possession of a weapon for one of the guns.
Queens DA Richard Brown said he accepted the verdict in this "emotionally charged case", noting, "As I said at the time of Barbara Sheehan’s arrest, this is a terribly sad and tragic case. A family has been torn apart. A father’s life has ended in violence. A mother was charged with his death and their two children were left to pick up the pieces... However, I want to make one thing clear. Today’s verdict should not be viewed as a victory for the defense or for victims of domestic violence -- just as a guilty verdict would not have represented a victory for the prosecution. According to recent statistics, one in three women will suffer some physical abuse during her lifetime from someone she knows. Six million American women are beaten each year by their husbands or boyfriends. Four thousand are killed -- and children are abused in 70% of the households where domestic violence takes place. Think of where we would be if only a fraction of abused women took the law into their own hands, as Barbara Sheehan allegedly did, and shot and killed their allegedly abusive spouses. The place to address the issue of domestic violence is through our justice and social services systems. This office -- and I personally --have a long history of vigorously responding to cases involving domestic violence."
The NY Times' Jim Dwyer doesn't think that the case should have gone to trial—Sheehan's lawyer tried to get a plea deal, but the Queens DA's office refused—"Trying to show that Ms. Sheehan didn’t really fear for her life, the prosecution poor-mouthed her injuries. The bloodied head seen by friends did not involve a large head wound, but one that was just an inch or so. Maybe she had too much to drink and fell. A bashed-in nose that she went to an emergency room for was probably not broken." On the other hand, the Post's Andrea Peyser decries "battered woman syndrome" as a defense strategy, "It’s a last-ditch defense for those with no apparent reason to kill. In it, a female, and it’s always a female, can freely admit that she rubbed out her unarmed and unsuspecting husband, and get away with it."
In spite of the fact that Sheehan could face a minimum of 3 and a half years for the weapons charge, her daughter said, "We are happy she was not convicted for murder. She's innocent. Even if she has to spend a year in jail, she's safe... He was going to kill her."