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Son Of Barbara Sheehan, Woman Who Killed Husband, Says He Feared His Father

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Testimony continued Thursday in the trial of a Queens woman accused of killing her ex-cop husband.

LISTEN: WCBS 880's Irene Cornell reports


Raymond Sheehan, 21, says he went to school hours away because he needed to leave the tense home.

His mother Barbara Sheehan, is charged with murdering Raymond Sheehan, a former New York Police Department officer. Sheehan said he was an abusive, reckless, terrifying man.

Prosecutors say she shot her husband 11 times using two handguns that he kept loaded. She has pleaded not guilty and says the shooting was self-defense.

On Wednesday, he testified his father had always treated his mother badly and that he too lived in fear of his father's rages.

When asked by prosecutors on Thursday why he went to college in Connecticut if he was so worried about his mother's safety, the 21-year-old said it was because he felt he would kill himself if he lived at home.

He said guns were a constant presence in the house and that his father would take his Glock handgun into the bathroom with him, where Barbara Sheehan testified she killed her husband.

Raymond testified of a palpable tension in their home and broke down in tears as he described witnessing the abuse, from the time he was a child until shortly before his father's death.

Once, he testified, he walked downstairs to see his mother covered in pasta sauce, her shirt off, sitting on the kitchen floor after she had argued with his father.

"She was always very nervous, very jumpy and jittery,'' he said of his mother. "You never wanted to set him off. ... Anything would set him off.''

Prosecutors sought to show that on the day of the shooting on Feb. 18, 2008, Sheehan was not fearful for her life. She proofed her son's school paper, drank coffee and made travel arrangements for a trip to Florida.

She testified that she didn't want to go with her husband on vacation but was pretending to out of fear because he had said he'd kill her if she didn't come. The fight touched off the fatal argument.

He dragged her out of bed the morning of the shooting and threw her out of the house in her pajamas, saying she couldn't come back until she agreed to go with him, she testified. She stood outside for nearly an hour in the winter cold before agreeing to come.

The retired officer kept his loaded service weapon, a Glock handgun, and an off-duty gun, the revolver. Often he kept one holstered to his side, the other on his ankle.

"Living with the man I lived with, I tried to survive the best I could,'' she testified.

Prosecutors asked repeatedly whether Sheehan ever called 911 or a domestic violence hotline in the hours leading to the shooting. The answer was always no.

After her husband got into the shower, she left to go to a friend's house, where she was frantic.

"I didn't know what to do,'' she said.

She went back home to get the $1,700 in cash she had stashed in her drawer and said she planned to tell her husband she was going to get dog food but never come back. She saw the revolver in the bedroom, took it and walked to the hall. Raymond Sheehan, 49, was in the bathroom, recently showered, the Glock by his side on the vanity.

That's when the encounter occurred.

During testimony, Sheehan was barely understandable through tears, her head down, her face in her hands, shielding her eyes as she said he pointed the gun at her and she fired.

"I don't know what I was thinking then; I was so scared,'' she said. "I thought he'd come after me and kill me.''

Prosecutors sought to suggest he did not point the gun at her, and noted he never fired.

"I felt really, really bad," she said. "I wanted to help him."

Then she told the jury she saw his hand reaching for the Glock.

"You got the jump on him," said the prosecutor.

"I fired it until I didn't feel threatened anymore," Sheehan answered.

But Sheehan would not answer specific questions, such as where she was standing when the shooting happened, how she ended up with both guns, and whether she pulled one from a holster.

Sheehan's daughter Jennifer, 25, has also said their father was abusive.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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