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Queens Chronicle

Judge steps down from Sheehan trial

Cites possible conflict of interest

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Posted: Thursday, July 21, 2011 12:00 pm | Updated: 3:54 pm, Sat Jan 26, 2013.

A Queens judge recused himself last week from the upcoming murder trial of Howard Beach resident Barbara Sheehan, who is charged with killing her husband, an ex-cop, citing a possible conflict of interest.

Queens Supreme Court Justice Richard Buchter announced he would no longer be involved in the case because his daughter works for the district attorney’s office, Sheehan’s attorney Michael Dowd said.

“I had no question, nor does my client, that he could have been fair,” said Dowd, who emphasized he did not ask for Buchter to remove himself from the case.

A new judge is expected to be chosen within the next week, and Dowd said he expects the position will be held by Justice Fernando Camacho or Justice Robert McGann.

Sheehan is charged in the shooting death of her husband, former NYPD Sgt. Raymond Sheehan, in 2008.

Dowd plans to ask the new judge to allow him to use expert testimony about the effects of long-term abuse during the trial.

Dowd and Sheehan have said the Howard Beach woman, a mother of two who works as a secretary for the city Department of Education, was physically and emotionally abused for the last 18 years of the 24-year marriage before she shot her husband 11 times as he was shaving in their home.

The first judge to preside over Sheehan’s case, retired Justice Arthur Cooperman, rejected Dowd’s motion to include the expert testimony.

“All I want for my client is a fair trial,” Dowd said.

Prosecutors have said the use of expert testimony was denied because Sheehan did not cooperate while being examined by a psychologist hired by prosecutors. Dowd has refuted this claim, saying she was more than willing to sit through a 10-hour examination by the psychologist.

He also said there was a videotape that proves Sheehan had cooperated with the prosecution’s psychologist.

After Sheehan was arrested in February 2008, she told police she feared her 49-year-old husband would kill her.

She said for nearly two decades her husband had beat her and threatened to kill her using knives and guns he kept in their 158th Street home.

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