OLD HOWARD BEACH, QUEENS (PIX11)—In the years between Barbara Sheehan killing her husband in self defense and her acquittal for the fatal shooting, her family has voted with their feet and with their pocketbooks to keep her out of jail on bail.
Now that she's fighting a criminal weapons possession conviction in relation to the 2008 shooting, her family is rallying around her once more to keep her out of jail, after Sheehan was released Monday from Rikers Island, where she'd been for nearly a week while the terms of her bail were clarified.
She kept her promise , and so did her family, who had told her the would celebrate her return home at their favorite Howard Beach restaurant, Gino's. At their L-shaped table, Barbara'a sister, Robin Catanzarite, toasted her as her hero, half an hour after embracing her sister outside of the Queens Supreme Court, through which she was processed from Rikers Island.
"It's unbelievable," Catanzarite told PIX11 News about her sister's release. "It's like Christmas. It's better than Christmas!" Catanzarite was one of 18 family members on hand to see Sheehan come out of the courthouse. They were all smiling, but the happiness was tempered.
"It's one day at a time," Catanzarite said. "We've been disappointed before. I hope we're not disappointed again."
"We're certainly happy," Sheehan's father, Michael Henry told PIX11 News, "But it's not over."
Sheehan and her attorney, Michael Dowd, still have an appeals process to deal with to try to get Sheehan acquitted of the criminal possession of a weapon charge she was convicted of in the self-defense shooting of her husband Raymond in February of 2008.
"It doesn't make sense," Henry said. "You've been acquitted, but you're guilty of having a gun?" That potential legal conflict is likely to be the crux of Dowd's appeal argument for his client.
But for now, Barbara Sheehan is home. Her family is praying she'll be able to stay there. Meanwhile, Barbara Sheehan says that she's reserving her prayers for other people. "The girls of Building 8 [at Rikers Island]," where she had been incarcerated.
Sheehan may need a few more prayers for herself. Later this week, the Department of Education is expected to dismiss her from her job as a school secretary on grounds that she is now a convicted felon. Also, on November 10th, Sheehan is scheduled to be sentenced for the weapons conviction. That date could be moved pending the status of its appeal.