After weeks of her waiting and hoping, it took Justice Arthur Cooperman less than 10 minutes to decide, yet again, that Howard Beach resident Barbara Sheehan will not be allowed the use of psychiatric or psychological testimony when she stands trial for killing her NYPD husband after enduring two decades of physical and mental abuse.
At her hearing on Tuesday in Queens Supreme Court, Sheehan’s attorney, Michael Dowd, presented the prosecution with a 27-page document — a written plea to overturn a decision made on Nov. 10 precluding expert testimony that would help the defendant prove she suffered from post-traumatic syndrome and battered woman’s syndrome at the time of the murder.
Cooperman issued the ruling after Sheehan missed one court-ordered psychiatric examination in September, which Dowd has said was his fault. Dowd’s interference in a psychiatric interview that took place last summer was also cited as a reason for the Justice’s call.
“I stand before this Court with hat in hand, repentant, beseeching and praying that it withdraw the onerous sanction of preclusion which should not be visited upon the head of the hapless defendant who was in no shape, manner or form, involved in any dereliction on my part,” Dowd wrote in the document.
According to Dowd, Sheehan already participated in 10.5 hours of testing at an examination on July 28 and 31.
After reading the papers, which also included reference to Criminal Procedure Law 250.10 to demonstrate that the word “defendant” should not apply to her counsel, the assistant district attorney said she opposes most of what was written, and Cooperman denied the motion.
“I question this D.A.’s office that call themselves out as champions of domestic violence, except when they’re trying to exterminate them as they are now,” Dowd said after the decision was made. “Are we going to stop fighting? No.”
Sheehan, 48, sat beside her 23-year-old daughter and several neighbors and friends in the court room. The mother of two is out on bail after being charged with second-degree murder and two counts of weapon possession. She was arrested last February at her home in Old Howard Beach after firing 11 shots at her husband, Raymond Sheehan.
The night before the shooting, Sheehan has said she and her husband fought over a trip to Florida. During the course of the argument, he reportedly beat and threatened to kill her.
Sheehan’s next court date is Jan. 5.