Tag Archives: Niall MacGiollabhui

[UPDATE] Barbara Sheehan sentenced to five years in prison


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Michael Pantelidis

After dodging a murder conviction for the death of her husband, Barbara Sheehan has been sentenced to five years behind bars on a second degree weapons charge related to the case.

Sheehan, who faced up to 15 years in prison prior to her sentencing, was acquitted of murder after a jury determined she acted in self-defense when she shot her husband, Raymond, a retired NYPD sergeant, 11 times on the morning of February 18, 2008. The Howard Beach resident and mother of two was also sentenced to two-and-a-half years of post-release supervision.

During the trial, Sheehan, 50, testified that she was a victim of domestic abuse for nearly 20 years, which her attorney, Niall MacGiollabhui, says should have been taken into consideration in her sentence.

“Mr. [Michael] Dowd [her attorney], Barbara and I are all disappointed with the sentence,” said MacGiollabhui. “The main reason we are disappointed is that there is a penal law which allows for a reduced sentence if the judge finds that the defendant is a victim of domestic violence and that violence was a factor in the crime that was committed. That finding is meant to be made during a hearing, which is held prior to sentencing. The judge in this case refused to have a hearing, and then he said that he found Barbara was a victim of domestic violence and that it was a factor in the crime, but that he would give her no credit because of it.”

MacGiollabhui also deems the judge’s decision to be unfair due to his belief that the killing of Barbara’s husband was taken into account during sentencing, despite her acquittal of murder.

“The judge basically said that [Barbara] could have simply left that day, which goes to one of the great myths of domestic violence, which is that the woman is free to leave,” said the attorney.

Sheehan’s bail was recently reinstated, allowing her to return home while she awaited sentencing. Her bail is expected to continue pending an appeal, which MacGiollabhui says should be filed early in the new year.

“Our opinion is that the jury’s verdict is inconsistent as a matter of law,” he said. “If you act in self-defense, then that is not unlawful. 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.”

MacGiollabhui also said that “the manner in which [Barbara] was sentenced and the sentence she received will both be part of the appeal.”

Barbara Sheehan released from prison


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com


According to published reports, the 50-year-old mother of two was released from Rikers Island earlier today, roughly two weeks after she was taken into custody.

Barbara was in prison awaiting sentencing for 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. She surrendered to authorities on October 12.

Barbara’s defense was centered on the roughly two decades of physical and emotional abuse that she claims she suffered at the hands of her husband, including an argument the day before the slaying which ended with Raymond allegedly breaking his wife’s nose. She was acquitted of second degree murder on October 6.

Barbara is reportedly due back in court for sentencing on November 10, and she could serve between two and a quarter to 15 years behind bars. Niall MacGiollabhui, one of Barbara’s

attorneys, says an appeal of the conviction is imminent.

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.”