Legal battle continues over sanity of Florida inmate scheduled to be executed next week

With the scheduled execution a week away, a battle about the sanity of convicted murderer Duane Owen continued Thursday.


Owen’s attorneys filed a brief at the Florida Supreme Court reiterating arguments that Owen should not be executed because of insanity. The brief came a day after Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office disputed the insanity arguments.

Owen’s attorneys pointed to the Eighth Amendment, which bars cruel and unusual punishment, and legal precedents that prevent executing people who are not mentally competent.

“The fact remains that Owen is insane to be executed and if this [Supreme] Court does not take action, Owen’s execution will be in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” Thursday’s brief said.

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In a brief Wednesday, Moody’s office contended that the “overwhelming weight of the evidence in this case demonstrates that Owen is sane to be executed” for the 1984 murder of a Palm Beach County woman.

“He is aware of the fact of his execution, and that he will die,” the brief filed by Moody’s office said. “He also understands why he is being executed.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis on May 9 signed a death warrant for Owen, 62, in the murder of Georgianna Worden, who was bludgeoned with a hammer and sexually assaulted in her Boca Raton home in May 1984, according to the death warrant and court records.

Owen also was sentenced to death in the March 1984 murder of 14-year-old Karen Slattery, who was babysitting at a Delray Beach home, according to state and federal court documents. Slattery was stabbed to death.

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The Supreme Court on Monday refused to block the execution in a separate appeal dealing with Owen’s competence. The subsequent flurry of arguments stemmed from a legal rule about holding hearings on whether prisoners would be insane at the time of execution.

Owen is scheduled to be put to death June 15.

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