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Gov. Ron DeSantis has 'dissolved and terminated' stay of execution for Duane Owen

Execution remains as scheduled for Palm Beach County murderer
Duane Owen, Florida Department of Corrections photograph
Posted at 9:17 AM, May 30, 2023

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The execution of a death row inmate who killed a 14-year-old babysitter and mother of two in separate Palm Beach County attacks nearly 40 years ago is a go for next month.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has "dissolved and terminated" a temporary stay of execution for Duane Owen, who is scheduled to die by lethal injection on June 15.

DeSantis issued an executive order to temporarily stay the convicted murderer's execution last week after Owen's attorneys argued that he may be insane.

The stay was in place while three psychiatrists – Drs. Wade Myers, Tonia Werner and Emily Lazarou – determined Owen's mental competency.

In an executive order dissolving the stay, DeSantis said Thursday that the psychiatrists concluded Owen "has the mental capacity to understand the death penalty and the reasons why it is to be imposed upon him," making the stay "no longer necessary."

Owen murdered Karen Slattery, a 14-year-old high school freshman, and Georgianna Worden, a mother of two, in 1984.

Now 62, Owen broke into a Delray Beach home in March 1984 and attacked Slattery while she was babysitting. Slattery was repeatedly stabbed and sexually assaulted.

Two months later, Owen broke into a Boca Raton home, where he beat Worden to death with a hammer and sexually assaulted her. The 38-year-old mother's body was found by her two children the following day.

Owen was arrested soon after and confessed to the crimes. He was later convicted of first-degree murder and sexual battery with a deadly weapon for both crimes and sentenced to death.

His attorneys have been fighting to save Owen's life, unsuccessfully seeking a stay of execution from a Palm Beach County circuit judge who ruled that the request was "premature" and "without jurisdiction."

Judge Jeffrey Gillen explained that, under the Florida rule of criminal procedure, a stay of execution based on insanity "shall not be entertained" by any court until the governor "has held appropriate proceedings for determining the issue." Gillen also said any subsequent motion must be filed in the circuit court in which the execution is set to take place.

The death warrant signed by DeSantis on May 9 remains in full effect. That means, barring a last-ditch ruling by a high court, Owen will die for his crimes on June 15.

If you have any information regarding the 2007 crimes with ties to the Town Center at Boca Raton, call Crime Stoppers of Palm Beach County at 800-458-TIPS. Tipsters could be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. You can remain anonymous.

You can also contact the detectives assigned to these cold cases using the information below:

Detective Scott Hanley
Boca Raton Police Department
shanley@myboca.us
561-338-1344

Detective William Springer
Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office
springerw@pbso.org
561-688-4013