Saturday’s shooting death of Jessica Canty in her Ozone Park home, allegedly at the hands of her husband, has put the spotlight back on a problem the NYPD has said is plaguing neighborhoods in South Queens and across the borough — domestic violence.
In the 102nd and 106th precincts, many recent killings recently have stemmed from domestic incidents. Last November, an Ozone Park man, Adalberto Sanchez, allegedly killed his wife and attempted to kill himself. In August 2013, a Woodhaven woman, Maria Espinoza, allegedly hit her boyfriend, Matthew Soria, with a vehicle on purpose during a fight, dragging him for blocks along Jamaica Avenue and killing him. Lee Burrison, 55, of Richmond Hill was murdered by his longtime girlfriend, Shirley Forbes, in April 2013. Most notable in South Queens recently was the 2008 case of Barbara Sheehan, who shot her husband dead in their Howard Beach home after years of abuse.
The New York Prisoner Assistance Center, a support group for prisoners, is circulating an online petition on Change.org to push Gov. Cuomo to release Barbara Sheehan, the Howard Beach woman who killed her abusive husband in 2008.
Sheehan was acquitted of murder in the killing of her husband, NYPD Sgt. Raymond Sheehan on the grounds that she had acted in self-defense after years of abuse. But a jury did convict her in 2011 of criminal possession of a weapon for using an illegal handgun in the shooting. The conviction has been appealed to the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals.
A state appellate court has upheld a weapon conviction against Barbara Sheehan, the Howard Beach woman who shot her abusive husband 11 times and killed him in 2008.
A jury in 2011 acquitted Sheehan of murdering her husband, ex-police officer Raymond Sheehan, in their home, but found her guilty on one count of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
Writing a book about their ex-cop father, who regularly told his son and daughter that he would kill them and their mother, was no easy feat for the children of Barbara Sheehan, a Howard Beach resident acquitted of murder after she shot her husband 11 times in what she said was self- defense.
“In Bed with The Badge: The Barbara Sheehan Story,” was written by Jennifer Sheehan Joyce, 25, now a nurse living with her husband in California, and Raymond Sheehan, 21, who lives in Howard Beach and plans to become a physician’s assistant. It is expected to be released on July 17.
Only minutes after a veteran journalist gave a rousing speech reminding a room of news professionals to remain true to their calling in the face of a rapidly changing industry — especially to act as the watchdogs of government and other powerful institutions — the Queens Chronicle was honored for covering local government better than any weekly newspaper in the state.
The setting was last weekend’s New York Press Association spring convention, which included presentation of NYPA’s Better Newspaper Contest awards. The Chronicle took home eight honors, including news awards such as the first place in local government coverage and others for advertising and design. The paper’s website, qchron.com, was named second-best statewide.
No matter how hard the water came this year, how fast it rushed down narrow side streets and into residents’ basements, leaving in its wake destroyed possessions and a mangled mess of downed trees and snarled wires, South Queens residents did what they’ve always done —tried to stand tall and, when they saw their neighbors’ ceilings crumbling, dropped everything to lend a helping hand.
Steadier than the water, but often seeming even more powerful, this outpouring of help from residents erupted after Hurricane Irene’s devastation, then again when thousands of people banded together to fight cancer — a disease that this year claimed far too many of the people who were essential stitches in closely knit communities — and, most recently, to remind the daughters of slain Police Officer Peter Figoski that they have the emotional and financial backing of South Queens.
Though Barbara Sheehan was sentenced to five years in prison last week after being acquitted of murdering her husband but found guilty on a weapons charge, her attorney is fighting to make sure the Howard Beach mother never sees the inside of a cell again.
“I am appalled,” Sheehan’s attorney, Michael Dowd, said after Queens Supreme Court Judge Barry Kron sentenced the 50-year-old woman to five years in prison, followed by two and a half years of post-release supervision. “But I’m not surprised in Queens County.”
Barbara Sheehan, center, stands outside the Queens Supreme courthouse with her attorney, Michael Dowd, right, family members and friends after she was sentenced to five years in prison.
Barbara Sheehan stands with her attorney, Michael Dowd, and family members outside the Queens Supreme Courthouse on Thursday.
Barbara Sheehan, the Howard Beach mother who was acquitted of murdering her husband but found guilty on a weapons charge, was sentenced to five years in prison on Thursday.
Barbara Sheehan, the Howard Beach mother who was recently acquitted of murdering her husband but faces sentencing on a weapons conviction, was released from Rikers Island on bail Monday.
Sometimes, it takes a village to do more than raise a child.
Sometimes, it takes a village to keep even the strongest of us going, to remind us that when the night falls, the morning always comes.
Mike Henry, left, and Barbara Henry attend a vigil last week in Howard Beach for their daughter, Barbara Sheehan.
With her wrists bound in black handcuffs, Barbara Sheehan, the Howard Beach woman acquitted of murdering her husband, yelled, “I love you,” to her daughter, who dissolved into sobs as police officers whisked her mother away to jail on Wednesday to await sentencing for a felony weapons conviction.
A jury of nine women and three men acquitted Sheehan, 50, of a second-degree murder charge last Thursday after she admitted shooting her ex-cop husband, Raymond Sheehan, 11 times in 2008 in what she has said was self defense. The jury did, however, find the mother of two, who had allegedly been physically and emotionally abused by her husband for nearly two decades, guilty of one count of criminal possession of a weapon, a class C felony that carries a minimum sentence of three and a half years in prison.
Barbara Sheehan was taken to a jail cell on Wednesday in handcuffs.
Barbara Sheehan enters the Queens Supreme courthouse in Kew Gardens.
Barbara Sheehan enters the Queens Supreme courthouse in Kew Gardens.
Each day that Barbara Sheehan, the Howard Beach woman charged with shooting her husband 11 times, headed to her trial over the past month, a group of individuals clad in purple — the color representing domestic violence awareness — trailed behind her, consistently cramming onto the hard wooden benches in a Kew Gardens courtroom to provide silent support for the defendant.
These people are not family, nor friends — though there are plenty of those in the courtroom as well.
It is the details that have broken the family — recollecting reading her son’s college religion essay just before she shot her husband 11 times in their Howard Beach home, being asked to read out loud in court an expletive-laced journal entry written by a 14-year-old son who hated his father, a daughter’s memory of being 4 years old and listening to her father screaming at her mother in the bedroom below.
These are the details that make up a lifetime, the narratives that form who people are, and, for Barbara Sheehan and her family, the stories that have been publicly pieced together over the past month by the defense and prosecution. The attorneys wove very different tales about the Howard Beach woman and the life she led before ending up in an alternately cold and stuffy room with a dramatic green marble wall in the Queens Supreme courthouse.
Theirs was a childhood marked by an explosive father, Raymond Sheehan, a man seen as a pillar of the Howard Beach community but who, his son and daughter testified, was a terror inside the home, making them live in constant fear of provoking a fury that resulted in him allegedly beating their mother so frequently that they rarely saw her without bruises.
“I heard my father call my mother a piece of sh** every day,” Raymond Sheehan, 21, said last week at the Queens Supreme Courthouse in Kew Gardens, where his mother, Barbara Sheehan, stands trial for shooting her ex-cop husband 11 times at their Howard Beach home in 2008. “I hated what he did to my mom, to my sister, to me. I hated how he tortured us.”
Barbara Sheehan’s daughter, Jennifer Joyce, and Joyce’s husband, Jesse, a Navy pilot, enter the Queens Supreme courthouse last week.
Her hands clasped as if in prayer, Barbara Sheehan looked out at a courtroom that had been transformed into a sea of purple worn by family and friends — the color representing domestic violence awareness —and began to sob, her shoulders heaving as the Howard Beach woman spoke about the morning she shot her husband, Raymond Sheehan, 11 times.
It was cold that day, Feb. 18, 2008, with a mist of rain coating the world outside the Sheehans’ home, where the couple had lived for much of their 24-year marriage, Sheehan testified during her trial at the Queens Supreme courthouse in Kew Gardens on Monday. Inside this house, Barbara Sheehan said she was trying to figure out how to escape from her husband, a retired NYPD sergeant, whom she believed was planning to soon kill her after two decades of alleged abuse that she testified included punching her in the face, smashing her head into cinder blocks while on vacation, dumping boiling marinara sauce on her and threatening to kill her children and other members of her family if she ever told anyone what was going on.
Barbara Sheehan enters court with her attorney, Michael Dowd, behind her.