Woman Says Killing of Ex-Police Officer Husband Was Self-Defense

Barbara Sheehan said she endured years of abuse by NYC police officer husband.

ByABC News via logo
November 3, 2008, 9:17 AM

Nov. 3, 2008 — -- From the outside, the Sheehans looked like a happy family -- she a devoted mother of two and school secretary, he a respected former New York City Police sergeant with 20 years on the force, and a church volunteer.

Behind the smiles and closed doors, though, Barbara Sheehan said her family lived in fear of her husband, Raymond. That is, until February 2008, when Sheehan snapped and police say she admitted to shooting and killing her husband with 11 bullets from his own gun.

Sheehan pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder. She is out of jail on a $1 million bond. The case is expected to go to trial in the spring.

Sheehan, 47, said the ex- cop terrorized the family for 18 years, and she believed she had nowhere to turn for help.

"I was sure that he was going to kill me. There was no doubt about it," Sheehan said in an exclusive interview with WABC-TV in New York.

Sheehan said the abuse began after the birth of the couple's second child. "It started with pushing, shoving, him apologizing, and then it would get worse, and then it got to a point where he just stopped apologizing. He was blaming it on me," she said.

Her 22-year-old daughter, Jennifer Sheehan, said her father would lock her and her brother, Raymond, in the bedroom and told them he'd kill them if they came out.

"It's terrible to say, but it's better since he's been gone," Jennifer said. "But I still have nightmares that he's gonna come home in the middle of the night. I wake up sweating, crying" she told WABC-TV.

A 2007 family vacation to Jamaica turned into a horror show. "The walls in the hotel were like cinder block and he kept banging my face into it until my head cracked open. There was blood all over the room, and I wound up in the hospital on the island of Jamaica," Barbara Sheehan said.

Sheehan said she didn't dare file a report or call the police on her officer husband.

"She couldn't go to the law because he was the law," said psychologist Nando Pelusi. "It sounds like in her mind she reached that point where it was all or nothing, and it was survival or death."