Share this @internewscast.com
Rejecting arguments about Death Row inmate Duane Owen’s mental competency, the Florida Supreme Court on Monday refused to block next week’s planned execution of Owen in the 1984 murder of a Palm Beach County woman.
Justices unanimously upheld a circuit judge’s ruling that, in part, found issues about Owen’s competency were addressed in earlier appeals. Also, the Supreme Court denied a request by Owen’s attorneys for a stay of execution.
As an example, the Supreme Court ruled that a claim by Owen about brain damage “does not constitute newly discovered evidence” under legal tests. It cited arguments about brain damage as far back as 1997.
“Indeed, some form of the evidence that Owen believes he could now find through brain imaging could have been discovered anytime during the past few decades,” the ruling said.
Justice Jorge Labarga was recused from the case. While the ruling did not explain the recusal, Labarga is a former Palm Beach County prosecutor and circuit judge.
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.
The execution is scheduled for June 15 at Florida State Prison.
Owen’s attorneys last month filed a 62-page brief at the Supreme Court arguing that Owen should be shielded from execution because of mental illness and brain damage. The brief contended that Owen’s due-process rights had been violated because “no jury or court ever heard Owen’s compelling mitigation” related to his mental condition.
“Although Owen submits that he should not have made it to this stage of the appeal as he is incompetent to proceed, Owen’s declining mental condition, schizophrenia, and fixed delusions also place Owen outside of the class of individuals allowed to be executed because he lacks the sanity to be executed,” the brief said.
But Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office urged the Supreme Court to reject the arguments, saying in a brief that information about Owen’s mental health has long been known and that “re-litigation of claims premised on ‘new information and testing’ is barred.”
DeSantis, on May 22, issued a temporary stay of execution and appointed three psychiatrists to evaluate Owen’s competency. He later issued an executive order to dissolve the stay, saying the psychiatrists concluded that Owen “has the mental capacity to understand the nature of the death penalty and the reasons why it is to be imposed upon him.”
We can’t do this without your help; visit our GiveSendGo page and donate any dollar amount; every penny helps.