Battered-Woman Defense Leads to Acquittal

A New York City jury on Thursday acquitted a Queens woman of her husband’s murder after a controversial trial that tested the limits of the so-called battered-woman defense. Barbara Sheehan had always admitted she killed her husband, but her defense had focused on that if she had not shot him, he would have killed her first. Sheehan shot her husband, a former police officer, 11 times with two different guns on Feb. 18, 2008, and she said she acted in self-defense after he threatened to kill her. Testimony at Sheehan’s second-degree murder trial focused on examples of his alleged relentless abuse, but prosecutors cast her as a pathological liar who executed her husband because of their marital problems. The case divided the Sheehan family—and the jury too, who as recently as Wednesday said they were hopelessly deadlocked.