Howard Beach residents have sent a clear message to Barbara Sheehan – “you are not alone.”
Over 100 people attended a vigil held at Ave Maria Catholic Academy, located at 158-20 101st Street, on Sunday, October 16 to express support for their neighbor. Barbara is currently in prison awaiting sentencing after being convicted of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree for the shooting death of her husband, retired NYPD sergeant Raymond Sheehan, on the morning of February 18, 2008.
The overwhelming opinion among the crowd was that Barbara and her family had suffered enough at the hands of Raymond and that they deserve to be reunited.
“I don’t think she should be in jail; not at all,” said Christine Otoole, a friend of Barbara’s. “The poor woman was abused for 18 years. It’s very easy for someone to say that she should’ve reported it, but not easy to do when you fear for your life. I’ve never been abused but I can just imagine what the poor woman went through. I’m married to a police officer and he never has his gun out. So why was [Raymond’s] gun out? That guy was obviously a psychopath.”
Deacon Alex Breviario of Our Lady of Grace spoke at the vigil, preaching faith and cooperation.
“Our rule is not to judge, but to support others in their time of need. That’s why we are here tonight for Barbara and her family,” said Breviario.
Barbara, who faced 25 years to life in prison before being found not guilty of murder, could serve between two-and-a-quarter to 15 years behind bars depending on sentencing. Although the usual minimum sentence for criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree is three-and-a-half years, Barbara faces a reduced minimum sentence of two-and-a-quarter years due to the domestic abuse she suffered.
The 50-year-old mother of two surrendered to authorities on October 12, but her attorney, Niall MacGiollabhui, says an appeal of the conviction is imminent.
MacGiollabhui has submitted an application to the appellate division to allow Barbara to remain on bail pending her sentencing and the results of the appeal. As of press time, Justice Barry Kron had yet to make a decision regarding bail.
Members of the Sheehan family also attended the vigil and expressed gratitude for the encouragement provided to Barbara.
“I just want to thank everybody for their support during the last three-and-a-half years for what we’ve been going through, since everybody was there for us,” said Michael Henry, Barbara’s father. “We appreciate it and we love every single one of you.”
— Additional reporting by Nargas Karimi