In between sobs and with her hands often clasped or shaking, Barbara Sheehan told jurors in the Queens Supreme Courthouse on Monday about the morning the Howard Beach woman shot her husband 11 times and the nearly two decades of abuse she had allegedly sustained at the hands of the man who was a retired NYPD sergeant.
Just after having a fight on Feb. 18, 2008 about whether or not Barbara Sheehan would accompany Raymond Sheehan to Florida, she told jurors she feared for her life and was going to attempt to escape.
“He had a gun in his hand, and he said,‘you’re not going anywhere,’” Sheehan said in reference to her husband at her trial that began last week. “I could see his eyes, and they were just glazed over. There was nothing in them. They were just blank, and it was so scary. I knew he was going to kill me.”
Sheehan took the stand and gave hours of emotional testimony for much of the day on Monday, with both her attorney, Michael Dowd, and Assistant District Attorney Debra Pomodore, questioning her. A sea of family and friends, many of whom wore purple, the color of domestic violence awareness, crowded into the courtroom on Monday.
After taking the stand from about 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., Sheehan will continue to testify on Tuesday so the prosecution can wrap up its line of questioning.
Her two children, Jennifer, 25, and Raymond Jr., 21, are also expected to testify in support of their mother during the trial.
After Raymond Sheehan reportedly pointed the gun at his wife, Barbara Sheehan said she ran into her bedroom to grab the money she had been saving in order to leave her husband and saw one of the ex-cop’s guns in the bedroom. She said she picked it up because she believed her husband may not shoot her if she also was armed.
“As I got to the bathroom door, he picked up the gun again and aimed it at my head and said he was going to kill me,” Sheehan said. “I shot the gun … He kept screaming, ‘I’m gonna f-ing kill you,’ and he was reaching for the gun.”
Saying she did not know how many times she had fired, Sheehan said she stopped firing “when I didn’t feel threatened by him anymore.”
She added she didn’t want to kill him but “just wanted him to stop, to not kill me.”
The prosecution has, however, said Barbara Sheehan "executed" her husband. During her opening arguments last week, Pomodore said that "no matter what allegations you hear," the defendant had no right to kill Raymond Sheehan.
Sheehan, 50, who has lived in Howard Beach for most of her life, testified about a marriage that was characterized by years of fear, of a husband whom she met when she was 17 years old and who, after the birth of their son in 1990, she said would threaten to kill her children and her family members, many of whom lived within several blocks of their Howard Beach home, if she ever mentioned the abuse.
He was a man, she said, who would allegedly splash boiling marinara sauce on her after deciding he didn’t want to eat what she had prepared for dinner, shove her to the ground and step on her, and make her watch him as he dressed up in women’s underwear, skirts and tights.
“He’d bring pictures home of difference crime scenes, of bodies, and he’d say that’s what I would look like if I told anybody,” Sheehan told the jurors.