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Vigil held for Barbara Sheehan


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Vigil

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

Barbara Sheehan lawyers plan appeal


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

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The chapter of the Barbara Sheehan murder trial is complete, but the story’s conclusion has yet to be written.

Although the 50-year-old mother of two was acquitted of second degree murder, a jury of nine women and three men chose to convict her 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 in their Howard Beach home.

“It’s sad what happened, but I had no choice,” said Barbara, who claims she was trying to escape from her house when her husband confronted her. “He aimed a gun at me. He tried to kill me, and I had to defend myself. I tried to get away, but he wouldn’t allow me to. At the time I thought that if I had a gun maybe he wouldn’t come at me, but that didn’t work.”

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. The Howard Beach resident was very disappointed with the jury’s verdict, and her lawyers believe the decision to be inherently contradictory.

“Our opinion is that the jury’s verdict is inconsistent as a matter of law,” said Niall MacGiollabhui, one of Barbara’s attorneys. “If you act in self defense, then that is not unlawful. It is lawful to act in self defense, and it is lawful to use a weapon in self defense even if it is not licensed to you because your intention is not to use it unlawfully, but in self defense.”

Barbara was scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday, October 12 to surrender. MacGiollabhui says an appeal of the conviction is imminent, and he also intends to submit 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, it remained uncertain whether Barbara would be allowed to remain out on bail.

According to MacGiollabhui, the District Attorney’s office has a record of text messages retrieved from the cell phones of Barbara and her children and sent by Raymond on the days leading up to his death. MacGiollabhui says that the messages confirm that Raymond was threatening both Barbara and their children, and that they could prove to be vital evidence during the appeal.

Although the DA’s office advised the defense to contact Verizon regarding the records, MacGiollabhui says the telephone company is unable to locate them. The attorney also says the defense is constitutionally entitled to the records, and he will make a formal request to the judge that the evidence be shared if the DA’s office proves uncooperative.

“The DA put on a case that Barbara and her children fabricated the domestic violence,” said MacGiollabhui. “If they put on that kind of a case, while they had evidence in their possession proving that Barbara’s husband made threats to her, to me that’s utterly dishonest.”

MacGiollabhui says the appeal may last at least another year, meaning Barbara’s fight to preserve her life is far from over.

“It’s been very difficult,” Barbara said – moments after her trial went to jury. “It continues to be very difficult until it is over.”

Barbara Sheehan acquitted of murdering her husband


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

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Roughly twenty-four hours after informing Justice Barry Kron that they were “hopelessly deadlocked,” the jurors in the Barbara Sheehan trial voted to acquit the Howard Beach resident of murder.

The 50-year-old mother of two was on trial for the death of her husband, retired NYPD sergeant Raymond Sheehan, who she shot 11 times on the morning of February 18, 2008.

Despite exonerating her of murder, the panel of nine women and three men decided to convict Barbara of gun possession in the second degree.

Before the verdict was reached, Barbara faced 25 years to life in prison.

The defense’s case was centered on the two decades of physical and emotional abuse that Barbara claims she suffered at the hands of her husband, who she says was a very paranoid man with “mental issues.”

“Our father was very abusive and a horrible person,” said Jennifer Sheehan, the couple’s 25-year-old daughter, who believes her family’s life will be better without her father. “I saw a lot of abuse on my mom. It is quite obvious that it was self defense and that she’s not guilty.”

Among the myriad of injuries Barbara says her husband inflicted on her weekly in what she called their “house of nightmares” were broken fingers, black eyes, a broken ear drum, dislocated nose and stitches in her forehead from him “bashing my head against a cinderblock wall during a trip to Jamaica.” She says her husband also had four loaded guns in the house at all times.

According to reports, Sheehan cried out in the courtroom as the verdict was read.