The son of a Queens woman who shot her husband to death in their home testified at her trial Thursday that the family endured years of abuse from him.
"My mom was abused my entire life, and my father tortured her," Raymond Sheehan told NBC New York outside court. "She protected her own life in doing what she did."
Barbara Sheehan has pleaded not guilty to murder charges in the death of her husband, also named Raymond Sheehan. Prosecutors say she shot the retired New York Police Department sergeant 11 times, using two loaded handguns he kept at the home. The 50-year-old school secretary said the shooting was self-defense and that her husband had threatened her with a gun hours before.
"Everyone's telling the truth," she told NBC New York on Thursday, "and I just hope that the jury sees it for the truth."
Raymond Sheehan, now 21, testified about several instances during his life where he witnessed his father abusing his mother.
Prosecutors introduced a letter the younger man had written when he was about 14 years old that told of his rage at his father, touched off because he believed his dad was having an affair. The profanity-laced rant included statements that he wanted his father dead.
Sheehan was shocked when Assistant District Attorney Debra Pomodore handed him the document. He read the first line aloud, then put his head in his hands and wept, his lanky shoulders shaking, and could not continue reading.
Pomodore asked about the father's behavior outside of the home, and Sheehan said he was gregarious and outgoing and kind — until they were alone.
"He acted like the perfect father, but when we got in the car, he was always berating me," he said.
Sheehan, an athlete, went to Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., and now works at a kindergarten in Brooklyn as an aid to a class with autistic children.
His 25-year-old sister, Jennifer Joyce, also testified Thursday and echoed her brother's testimony of abuse and countless instances of her father hitting her mother. Joyce, recently married, now lives in San Diego and works as a nurse.
"He would go into these periods where he would have a blank stare," she said of her father. "He was totally out of control."
The shooting occurred Feb. 18, 2008, touched off by an argument over whether Barbara Sheehan would go on a Florida vacation with her husband. She testified Wednesday that she was terrified, because he had threatened her with his loaded Glock and told her he was going to kill her if she didn't come.
She got his .38-caliber revolver from the bedroom while he was in the bathroom, and fired. Prosecutors say she also picked up the Glock, which her husband had on him at the time, and fired that weapon as well.