Duane Owen, a convicted killer on Florida’s death row, could see his execution halted if the U.S. Supreme Court decides to grant a stay of execution filed by his attorney Lisa M. Fusaro. The filing which was submitted on Monday argues that Owen has “fixed psychotic delusions and dementia” which may prevent him from understanding the connection between his past crime and the impending execution. The delay request follows failed attempts to halt the scheduled execution by the circuit court and the Florida Supreme Court, as well as a brief stay by Governor Ron DeSantis.
The application cites the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment.” Fusaro asserts that Florida’s state courts focused on Owen’s prior competency and mental illnesses rather than his present mental condition. DeSantis temporarily postponed Owen’s execution following an examination by three independent psychiatrists, who concluded that he was competent to face execution. However, the defense attorney criticized the psychiatrists for only spending 100 minutes with Owen without conducting any testing.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office responded by saying that Owen was given a fair trial and has spent nearly 40 years on death row.
In 1984, Owen murdered two women in Palm Beach County. He stabbed Karen Slattery to death while she was babysitting at a Delray Beach home in March of that year. In May 1984, he bludgeoned Georgianna Worden to death with a hammer while she slept inside her Boca Raton home.
If Owen’s execution is carried out, he will become the third person to receive the death penalty for a murder committed in Palm Beach County to be executed by the state. The scheduled time for his execution is Thursday at 6 p.m.