WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — An attorney for Duane Owen has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt Thursday night's scheduled execution in a last-ditch effort to spare the Palm Beach County murderer's life.
Owen's attorney filed an application for a stay of execution with the high court Monday. Previous attempts to stop the execution have been denied by the circuit court and Florida Supreme Court.
Lisa M. Fusaro, an attorney with the Capital Collateral Regional Counsel in Temple Terrace, argues in the filing that Owen "lacks a rational understanding of the connection between his crime and impending execution due to his fixed psychotic delusions and dementia."
Fusaro's filing cites the Eighth Amendment, which bars "cruel and unusual punishment," and claims the state courts "placed undue emphasis on Owen's past competency and mental illness instead of solely focusing on his present mental condition."
However, Gov. Ron DeSantis temporarily halted the execution while three independent psychiatrists examined Owen to determine his mental competency. DeSantis "dissolved and terminated" the stay after Drs. Wade Myers, Tonia Werner and Emily Lazarou concluded that Owen was mentally competent to be executed.
Fusaro claims the doctors only "saw Owen for approximately 100 minutes and administered no testing," in contrast to a doctor retained by the defense.
"Florida has a minimal interest in finality and efficient enforcement of judgments, but Owen, whose delusions and dementia prevent him from rationally understanding the consequences of his execution, has a right in ensuring that his execution comports with the Constitution," Fusaro wrote.
Owen, 62, was sentenced to death for the murders of Karen Slattery and Georgianna Worden in separate attacks in Palm Beach County in 1984.
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Slattery was babysitting when she was stabbed to death inside a Delray Beach home in March 1984.
Worden was bludgeoned to death with a hammer while she slept inside her Boca Raton home in May 1984.
The execution is scheduled for Thursday at 6 p.m.
If carried out, Owen would become just the third person convicted of murder in Palm Beach County to be executed by the state.