As Barbara Sheehan’s trial continues her son testifies over their unhappy family life, over the past two days. His mother is charged with murder having shot her husband, an ex-cop, 11 times following over a decade of alleged domestic abuse.
Speaking in court, on Wednesday, Raymond Sheehan Jr, now 21, spoke to Niall Mac Giollabhuí, a Dublin-born lawyer from the offices of Michael Dowd, about a home filled with tension and violence.
He said “I always saw bruises on my mother, whether it was on her arms, legs, and she had black eyes sometimes.
“He would tell her he would kill me and my sister and her father as well. She was always nervous, jumpy and jittery.”
Barbara Sheehan has pleaded not guilty to the murder charges. Prosecutors say she shot her husband a retired New York Police Department sergeant using two of his guns. The 50-year-old school secretary claims it was in self-defense.
Sheehan Jr told the court how is father had once left the house in a rage. According to reports in the Nw York Post he phoned the house and said he would kill anyone he found still in the house. His mother locked Sheehan Jr and his sister Jennifer in a room.
“He came home. We just sat in the room and listened. I was scared for my life that night.”
Mac Giollabhuí asked the witness if he had happy memories of the home. Sheehan Jr replied “No. There was always tension, you always worried about doing something to set him off. Anything would set him off.”
The 21-year-old recalled being nine or ten-years-old and being berated by his father for losing a basketball game. His father was the coach. He told the court “My whole family was in the car. He said I was worthless and embarrassed him, and I would be nothing, just like my mom.”
On Thursday Sheehan Jr said he had decided to go to college in Conneticut because he feared that after years of abuse at the hands of his father he would kill himself if he stayed at home.
He said “I chose to go away because I seriously thought about suicide. I feared if I lived with my father ... I would do that,” according to AP.
For the Prosecution, Assistant District Attorney Debra Pomodore, showed Sheehan Jr a letter he had written at the age of 14. It was filled with rage towards his father as he believed he was having an affair. The letter included statements that the teenage boy wanted his father dead.
Sheehan put his head in his hands and wept.
The son told Pomodore that outside the family home his father was a different person, gregarious and outgoing. He explained “He acted like the perfect father, but when we got in the car, he was always berating me."
The 21-year-old man is now works at a kindergarten in Brooklyn as an aid to a class with autistic children.
Also in court was Barbara’s daughter Jennifer (25) who also made statement about their abusive father. In early reports on Raymond Sheehan’s murder Jennifer told the New York Times that she had only attended her father’s funeral in 2008 as she “just wanted to see for myself that he was dead”.