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Old October 12, 2011, 11:09 AM   #1
Glenn E. Meyer
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Interesting SD case


1. Battered woman - that defense is very controversial in legal and psychological circles.

2. She gets his revolver and shoots him when he points a Glock at her , if I read it correctly.

2. She gets in trouble because after righteously shooting the guy with the first gun, she picks up the second and shoots him some more. The jury's logic is to convict her on gun possession as he was eliminated as a threat and there was no need to use the second gun.

3. Some on the jury say this was a compromise verdict.

My points:

a. What a tangle - shows that folks who say if it is a good shoot, blah, blah. Juries decide if it was a good shoot - not you.

b. The legal issue can be complex and juries compromised.

c. Note - don't bash, rail against NY in general or rant. Discuss the issue. Go off track at your risk. In CA threads, I've had to cut this sort of digression.


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Old October 12, 2011, 11:56 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by New York Times article
...[T]he jury forewoman suggested to my colleague Dan Bilefsky that the verdict involved compromise.
Earlier this year, my father served on a jury for a murder trial in southern California. It was a gang-related thing, a drive-by shooting. The details aren't particularly relevant and the jury convicted the defendants of first degree murder, which was not really a surprise to anyone (although there were a couple of members who were somewhat sympathetic to the defendants because of the defendants' social situation.)

But the sentencing turned out to be a chore and resulted in a compromise between eleven jurors who favored the death penalty and one who, under no circumstances, was going to vote for death.

That lone holdout did not vote no because she thought that the defendants' crime was not death-penalty worthy. It was because she was completely, non-negotiably against the death penalty. It became a serious bone of contention amongst the jury because the other eleven were nearly as convinced that death was the only suitable punishment.

After a couple of days of wrangling, bad tempers, sulking and arguing, the foreman came up with a rather elegant solution that satisfied everyone. He pointed out that the virtually endless appeals that the defendants were sure to get with a death sentence would go on for years and years. He suggested that the difference between a sentence of life without parole and one of death was that the capitol sentence provided a bit more freedom to the criminals. And given that they would be spending decades in jail either appealing the sentence or serving it, why not simply sentence them to life in prison and skip all of the appeals and other business that goes with a death sentence?

So that's what they did - it took about an hour to get the details nailed down. It was a compromise of a somewhat different sort than that of the New York jury, but a compromise nonetheless.

Now, a bit more topical, this is certainly a classic example of who decides what is justified, what isn't and what's in between. All things considered, I guess that it's better to be alive instead of beaten to death, even if you stand convicted of a trumped-up charge. And having never been through anything approaching that situation, I wouldn't even begin to guess just how easy it might be to maintain a sense of what a measured response would be.

I'm certainly glad that I wasn't on that jury.
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Last edited by Hardcase; October 12, 2011 at 01:05 PM.
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Old October 12, 2011, 12:17 PM   #3
Steel Talon
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2. She gets in trouble because after righteously shooting the guy with the first gun, she picks up the second and shoots him some more. The jury's logic is to convict her on gun possession as he was eliminated as a threat and there was no need to use the second gun.
Not knowing the details,BG could of still been actively in the fight etc.... I would say at this point instead of doing what she did. She should of taken an escape route. One she created by putting BG down with the intial shooting
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Old October 12, 2011, 12:34 PM   #4
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Sounds like the Ok City pharmacist,,,

Long story short,,,
He was convicted of murder on the grounds that,,,
The man he shot was on the ground and out of the fight.

There is way more to it than that,,,
But the cases seem to have a similar point to be aware of.

As soon as your attacker is out of the fight,,,
Stop Shooting!

We citizens don't seem to have the same lee-way that LEO's have,,,
They can empty a high capacity handgun into a perp and walk away with no charges.

Sorry if that sounds bitter,,,
It wasn't meant to be.

My point is that juries do seem to allow force to stop an attack,,,
But they will convict you if you keep using force after the attack has stopped.

The old "He was still twitching and therefore dangerous" excuse,,,
Doesn't seem to work any more.

Many many years ago (1970 ?) I took a class in handgun defense,,,
At that time they were saying "if you shoot, shoot to kill, and keep shooting until it's accomplished."

I don't think that's applicable anymore,,,
My thinking is that now the moment the BG is hit,,,
I stop shooting and run out of harm's way to make the phone call.

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Old October 12, 2011, 02:54 PM   #5
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The facts are not clear from this story (imagine that!). It says Mr. Sheehan was shaving in the bathroom when Mrs. Sheehan ventilated him with his own revolver. It says she took this rather drastic step "after he pointed his Glock semiautomatic pistol at her head." But apparently, she didn't draw on him when this happened, but rather after some undefined passage of time (had he pointed it at her the previous week? The previous night? Earlier that morning?). In other words the threat from Mr. Sheehan had abated by his own actions; all Mrs. Sheehan needed to do was bolt out the door.

Or, conversely, as Steel Talon suggests, he may have still been armed and could have still been in the fight, such as it was.

As to the jury, yes, it seems they were okay with her shooting him, just not okay with her shooting him eleven times with two different handguns.
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Old October 12, 2011, 04:22 PM   #6
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" In other words the threat from Mr. Sheehan had abated by his own actions; all Mrs. Sheehan needed to do was bolt out the door. "

Oh it isn't that simple. Threat from Mr S never goes away until he is dead, and even then there will be lingering fear.

A former lady friend got sucked into a verbally abusive marriage despite her friends pointing out where the relationship was going. It started out fine, he treated her great then slowly turned into a controlling monster over 5-7 years. Living under such conditions is like living in a war zone, the stress never lets up. This threat is constant and is no way like the pharm guy that had a random threat present it self then continued to fire after the threat was down.

As for walking out, the receiver of the abuse has a difficult time doing that. Some of it is that they have no where to go, sometimes it is the stigma of "you belong in the kitchen, so stop whining " ( or the much more rare "you are the man of the house, stand up for your self " ). A lot of it is the faint hope that good guy will reappear at some point. When someone is told they are worthless over and over, they tend to place high value on the little bits of praise that comes their way when it comes from a person that they had truly loved early on.

With great effort said lady friend extracted he self from the situation. Although she is a tiny gal, she has incredible mental strength and isn't a helpless girlie girl. ( lets see, dirt / street bike riding, parachuting, parasailing, scuba, on and on. ) To show how difficult it is to recognize and to extract ones self from such a situation is, she is a clinical psychologist, that amongst other things , deals with marriage issues. Many of her friends are in the profession as well.

Now, can the battered spouse defense sometimes be missused? Well sure, any defense can, but that is no reason to discount for those truly in need.
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Old October 12, 2011, 04:31 PM   #7
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For starters:
“I didn’t know how many shots I fired. I stopped firing when I didn’t feel threatened anymore.”
Isn't this more or less what CCW holders are trained to say? Yes, I realize the holes, thus the "more or less" qualifier.

Second, how can she be charged with illegal gun possession in the home? Do you need a permit to possess a handgun in NY?
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Old October 12, 2011, 04:41 PM   #8
Glenn E. Meyer
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Yes, you do. The nuances of person X having the gun at home with permit and you are person Y without - I have no idea.

So if person X tries to kill themself and you grab it - then you should be arrested for possession?

We need a NY legal eagle to parse this!

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Old October 12, 2011, 06:02 PM   #9
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I wonder if the facts REALLY are as presented here, or if they have been carefully tailored by the defense to sow the maximum possible amount of uncertainty and chaos into the public at large and the jury in specific.

Following Occam's law, isn't it far more likely she just grabbed both handguns from the getgo and started shooting the second pistol when the first ran dry?
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Old October 12, 2011, 06:14 PM   #10
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I wasn't there. Didn't see the video replay.

My sister was married to an abusive husband for many years. Nobody in the family could figure out why an otherwise intelligent woman would put up with the abuse. He finally passed away and the guy she's married to now seems to be a decent sort. The point being, I suppose, that you can't apply conventional logic in cases involving abuse.
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