OLD HOWARD BEACH, NY (PIX11)—The murder trial of 50-year-old Barbara Sheehan heated up Tuesday as the prosecutor hammered away at the Howard Beach mother of two, trying to chip away at her credibility. Subjects from guns and violence to dirty laundry and kinky sex were covered in the wide ranging testimony.
Sheehan admits to shooting her husband Raymond to death in February 2008, but is hoping for an acquittal based on the savage abuse he allegedly inflicted upon her during their 24-year marriage. Tuesday, the prosecutor delved into Sheehan's sex life -- accusing her of being a dominatrix who regularly dressed up her husband as a baby for fetish play.
In one particularly emotional exchange, prosecutor Deborah Pomodore repeatedly asked Mrs. Sheehan to characterize her sex life with her husband. Sheehan admitted her husband ended their relations when she was just 37, but frequently stayed out late at night without explanation.
Barbara later learned he was engaging in kinky sex when online chats would pop up on their shared home computer asking about fetish play. Pomodore accused Mrs. Sheehan of being a dominatrix, a mistress who engaged in infantilism practices and other role play -- which she denied.
"It's no secret that Raymond ran around in diapers saying 'mommy' and that he was doing stuff with transvestites and transsexuals. But it is despicable for the Prosecutor to ask my client if she participated, when she knows full well she didn't. You have to draw the line somewhere," said Sheehan's attorney Michael Dowd.
Sheehan was surrounded by three dozen supporters--family, friends and neighbors--mostly wearing purple ribbons and clothing, showing their solidarity for the cause of domestic violence.
"I might do the same thing," said one woman who did not want to give her name, but who attends church with Sheehan.
"All of our kids grew up together," family friend Dominic Dileo said. "I coached with Ray." Barbara Sheehan's husband Raymond Sheehan was an NYPD evidence unit sergeant who coached basketball at Our Lady of Grace School, where their children attend school. The school is located one block away from the Sheehans' house on 158th Street. The same house where Barbara Sheehan allegedly shot her husband 11 times with his own gun as he stood shaving in the bathroom. She has said in numerous interviews that her husband had severely beaten her many times over the years, had held a gun to her head on multiple occasions, and had repeatedly threatened to kill her.
"It's a tough situation," family friend Dominic Dileo said about Barbara Sheehan's ongoing trial for murder, a crime she doesn't deny. Sheehan is hoping for an acquittal ruling based on the years of horrific abuse she says Raymond put her through. "You don't want no one to be killed, but you don't want no one abused, either."
Neighbors who spoke to PIX11 were all supportive of Barbara. "At the parish, I would see her with bruises, a broken arm, broken noses. How many times can you fall?" a parishioner told PIX11 News.
"I just hope that she gets off," a neighbor told PIX11 News, "because I believe she was protecting her own."
Family friend Dominic Dileo said, "I... want for Barbara to find peace."
But some headway was made for the prosecution in Sheehan's credibility while discussing a beating Sheehan suffered at her husband's hands while on vacation in Jamaica. The prosecutor played clips from "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and "Good Morning America" showing Sheehan talking about the head wound she received as being from the front of her head to the back, but prosecutor Pomodore pointed to a hospital report showing it as a one-inch gash
More testimony is expected in the coming days, including what happened the morning she admittedly shot her husband to death.
Both of Raymond's children are expected to testify on their mother's behalf in the upcoming days.
Legal experts say the trial could be a critical test for the so-called battered-woman defense, in which attorneys argue a history of abuse ultimately leads their defendants to kill.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, you can call New York City's 24-hour Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-621-HOPE (4673).
CONTRIBUTED BY KERRY DREW