Domestic violence is a behavioral pattern that one or both individuals in any relationship use to maintain or gain control over one another. In most cases of domestic violence the incidences reported include physical, emotional, sexual, psychological and economic abuse. An individual may intimidate, frighten, manipulate, terrorize, humiliate, blame or wound their partner in order to gain influence over them. This was clearly brought out in the case of Barbara Sheehan, who was acquitted of the murder of her husband. The couple, which had been married for 24 years, was said to have had unhappy 17 years of marriage full of domestic violence.
The Supreme Court decided to acquit the lady after it deemed the evidence against murder sufficient. The court concluded that Mr. Sheehan had put his wife through so many forms of domestic violence. In their judgment, the jury said they believed Ms. Sheehan’s claims against her late husband were true and that Raymond Sheehan had not been the pillar family man as portrayed by prosecutors. It turned out that Mr. Sheehan had bizarre sexual behavior such as coercing Ms. Sheehan to look on as he masturbated. This was an emotionally and psychologically diminishing act that could have led to murderous rage. Ms. Sheehan also claimed that her husband, during a vacation with the rest of their family in Jamaica in 2007, had hit her head against a cinder block wall .
Ms. Sheehan, when presenting the history of their abusive marriage, claimed that Mr. Sheehan had thrown boiling pasta sauce in her direction and punched her face on that fateful day she killed her husband. She admitted that they had had a heated argument on that day in February 2008 at their in Howard Beach house. Ms. Sheehan further testified that she had taken one of her husband’s guns for self protection. She claimed the fateful event took place when she was leaving the house. Her husband, who was shaving, reached for a gun in the bathroom and that is when she had shot him 11 times.
Even though the physical evidence did not have much logic to it, it is easy to tell that this was a marriage full of domestic violence. The physical, emotional and psychological torture that Ms. Sheehan was put through could have justified her actions. The court concurred with Ms. Sheehan assertion that had she not shot her husband first, she would have been the one to be killed. The state law justified her actions because her life was endangered.
The prosecution’s claims cannot also be dismissed because they made sense as well. Ms. Sheehan was accused of executing her husband simply because she despised him. Their marriage was described as dysfunctional and sexless. The prosecution also found the physical evidence unconvincing because Sheehan’s body was found in the bathroom. Had Ms. Sheehan been leaving as she claimed, his body would be found elsewhere.
The jury had a hard time reaching consensus; the case had been divisive, dividing even the Sheehan family. However, it was a wise ruling by the jury of 12 judges. This case demonstrated that an abusive relationship can inform a partner’s sense of the essentiality of acting in self defense. However, it was also a demonstration of the effects of domestic abuse. Individuals can decide to take the law in their own hands and end up tearing apart a family and every other person close to the partners. Domestic violence has detrimental effects and must be stopped at all costs. This is illustrated by the emotional and opinion outrage caused by the Sheehan case.
BILEFSKY, DAN. Wife Who Fired 11 Shots Is Acquitted of Murder. 6 October 2011. 19 August 2012