Barbara Sheehan acquitted of murder in shooting death of ex-cop husband

Barbara Sheehan Leaves court house on 10/6/11 after acquittal.

BY Thomas Zambito, Edgar Sandoval and Tracy Connor
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS

Originally Published:Thursday, October 6th 2011, 2:39 PM
Updated: Thursday, October 6th 2011, 2:39 PM

A Queens woman who killed her ex-cop hubby in a hail of 11 bullets dodged one herself Thursday when jurors embraced her battered-wife defense and acquitted her of murder.

Barbara Sheehan was convicted of gun possession but faces as little as three years in prison – and she grinned after leaving the courthouse with her children.

“We are happy she was not convicted for murder. She’s innocent,” her daughter Jennifer Sheehan-Joyce, 25, said. “Even if she has to spend a year in jail, she’s safe … He was going to kill her.”

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown called the death of retired Sgt. Raymond Sheehan “a tremendously sad and tragic case.”

“Today’s verdict should not be viewed as a victory for the defense or for victims of domestic violence,” he said. “A family has been torn apart.”

The jury had been asked to decide who the real Barbara Sheehan was: an abused mother who lived in fear of her husband’s explosive rages or a scheming liar who was sick of his kinky sex demands but lusted for his life insurance.

Jurors declined to comment, but the split verdict suggested a compromise. A day earlier, the panel of nine women and three men reported it was hopelessly deadlocked, and the judge sent the jury back to try again.

When the verdict was announced in the afternoon, Sheehan screamed. Her supporters, wearing purple in honor of domestic violence victims, sobbed and cheered.

Sheehan, 50, never denied she killed her husband, Raymond, while he shaved in the bathroom of their Howard Beach home Feb. 18, 2008.

But she said she had no choice: After a fight over vacation plans, as she tried to sneak out of the house with his revolver, he aimed a 9-mm. Glock pistol at her.

She said she fired five shots from a revolver, then grabbed the Glock as it clattered to the floor and clicked off six more rounds before he could grab it.

The jury acquitted her of a gun possession charge for having the revolver, but the charge from the Glock stuck.

Sheehan must report to prison next week ahead of her sentencing in November, when she faces three to 15 years behind bars.

“There is no joy today,” said Sheehan’s lawyer, Michael Dowd, who has defended many battered women accused of killing their spouses.

“The only thing that would bring joy to this family would be to bring them back 17 years before the first blow was struck,” he added.

Sheehan-Joyce, 25, said her mom is relieved.

“She was acting in self-defense. I’m 25 years old. As long as you can remember, my father was abusing my mother. … The pushing, the shoving, the kicking, the threats.”

The acquittal was a blow to prosecutors, who noted she never reported any abuse or tried to leave him.

Raymond Sheehan’s twin brother, Vincent, called it a “bad verdict.”

“But this is the system and you’ve got to live with it,” he said.

tzambito@nydailynews.com

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