Over three years ago, Barbara Sheehan shot her husband in their Howard Beach home while he was shaving. At the time, neighbors alluded to various domestic disturbances coming from the Sheehan house—one neighbor even clapped when Barbara Sheehan was led out of the house by cops while another said, "There's a reason she did this. He was free with his hands and she probably couldn't take it." Now, Sheehan is finally on trial and is claiming she killed her retired cop husband Raymond in self-defense.
After her arrest and being released on $1 million, Sheehan told the Daily News in May 2008 that he punched her the day before she shot him. Even though he took her to the hospital, he called her while she was in triage, "He said he had bullets in his pockets, two guns on him and if a police car pulled up, he'd know I told them, and he would find my father and my daughter and go down in glory." So she left without getting treated. She also said, "He told me the police would never believe me [if I reported domestic abuse]. When I tried to call 911, he'd grab the phone and beat me with it. He said an order of protection is a piece of paper and paper doesn't stop bullets." When Sheehan appeared on Oprah in 2009, she said, "He let me know that all the time, that no one would believe me. 'I have the badge. They're going to believe the badge.'"
The trial started earlier this month and her lawyer, Michael Dowd, told the jury, "When she shot Raymond, she did so because he threatened her with the use of deadly physical force. He pointed the Glock [handgun] and said he was going to shoot," Queens ADA Debra Pomodore said, "Barbara Sheehan didn’t shoot her husband in self-defense, she executed him... There are claims he beat her, broke her nose, stole her keys. Whether they’re true or false, Barbara Sheehan was not legally justified to blow away her husband."
The NY Times reports, "New York State’s self-defense law justifies the use of lethal force in response to an immediate threat to life. But lawyers for battered women argue that lethal force can sometimes be justified when the threat might not appear immediate, equating the abused woman to a combat veteran who knows instinctively when the violence will turn deadly."
A NYU law professor told the Times "that in cases in which abused women killed their husbands, they were typically convicted at the same rate as others accused of murder."