RAIFORD, Fla. — Duane Owen, who was on death row for 37 years for the murders of 14-year-old Karen Slattery, 14, in Delray Beach, and single mother Georgianna Worden, 38, in Boca Raton, was put to death by lethal injection Thursday evening at Florida State Prison.
Owen was pronounced dead at 6:14 p.m.
When asked if he wanted to give a final statement, Owen replied, "No."
However, after the execution, reporters received copies of a handwritten statement from Owen that he wrote earlier in the day.
The procedure began at 6:01 p.m., with Owen's arms twitching and his breathing becoming heavier as the sedative took effect. The warden made sure Owen was unconscious before lethal drugs were administered.
Several family members of the victims witnessed the execution. No one in the witness room spoke, but after the execution, Slattery's younger sister, Debbi Johnson, who sat in the front row, called Owen a coward.
"He didn't open his eyes," Johnson said. "I know because I looked at them."
Johnson, who works as a deputy in the Florida Keys, was 10 years old when her sister died.
"With this rain today, I was really hoping I was going to see a rainbow," Johnson said. "Because that's what my mom always said, 'Whenever you see a rainbow, that's Karen smiling down on us.' There's no rainbow, but the rain will stop, and she'll come through in her own way."
Johnson said closure is a myth, but justice is real.
"The state of Florida said he was supposed to die by lethal injection, and that is exactly what happened today," Johnson said. "He served his sentence. The end."
The 62-year-old murderer woke up at 7 a.m. and had his last meal at 9:45 a.m., Florida Department of Corrections spokeswoman Kayla McLaughlin Smith said.
Owen's choice of food was a bacon cheeseburger with no bun, onion rings, strawberries, a vanilla milkshake, cherry ice cream, and coffee.
McLaughlin Smith said he received no visitors.
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Since 2000, the state of Florida allows lethal injection as an alternative method of execution to the electric chair. Inmates can choose to die by either method.
Men on death row are housed at Union Correctional Institution, but Owen was transferred a mile away to Florida State Prison for the execution.
About 30 minutes before the execution, phone communication was established with the office of the governor in the event there were any last-minute delays.
The execution was carried out by a private citizen who is paid $150 per execution. The executioner's identity can be anonymous, according to state law. The job is to inject the chemicals into the IV attached to the inmate.
Duane Owen Execution
As execution looms, here are some facts about Florida death penalty
The lethal injection is made up of three drugs: Etomidate (an anesthetic to sedative), Rocuronium Bromide (muscle relaxer to stop breathing) and Potassium Acetate (stops the heart). There are two Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents who serve as monitors. They are responsible for observing the execution and the condition of the inmate during the execution process. The first agent observes the preparation of the chemicals used and the second agent is in the execution chamber and must keep a detailed log of everything that happens in the chamber at a two-minute interval.
This was Florida's fourth execution this year after a hiatus in which there were none since 2019.