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Defense attorneys argue killer clown suspect should be released from jail

Sheila Keen-Warren accused of dressing as clown in 1990 to kill future husband's wife
Richard Lubin with Sheila Keen-Warren in court in October 2017
Posted at 8:57 AM, Mar 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-30 19:27:12-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Attorneys for a woman accused of dressing up as a clown and killing her future husband's wife in 1990 argued during a bond hearing Tuesday that their client should be released from jail.

Defense attorneys filed a motion in January asking a Palm Beach County judge to set a bond for Sheila Keen-Warren so that she can be freed from jail while she awaits trial.

Keen-Warren faces a first-degree murder charge in connection with the May 26, 1990, death of Marlene Warren at her Wellington home.

Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office Detective Paige McCann said during a September 2017 news conference that Sheila Keen, as she was known at the time, was dressed like a clown when she fatally shot Warren.

"Marlene answered the front door and the clown had two balloons, as well as a bouquet of flowers, and went to hand Marlene those items," McCann told reporters.

Warren, who had been eating breakfast with her then-22-year-old son and several of his friends, was surprised and commented, "How nice."

Marlene Warren
Marlene Warren was fatally shot in the face by a woman who was dressed as a clown in May 1990.

"It was at that time that the clown pulled out a gun and shot Marlene in the face," McCann said.

The clown then calmly walked back to the white Chrysler LeBaron in which she had arrived and drove away.

Warren died at Palms West Hospital two days later.

Keen-Warren had long been considered a suspect in the shooting, but it took investigators 27 years to make an arrest. She eventually married Michael Warren in 2002 and moved to Tennessee, where the couple operated a restaurant. She was arrested in Virginia in 2017.

"There is no reliable physical or testimonial evidence that she committed this crime, yet Ms. Keen-Warren has been incarcerated without a bond since October 4, 2017," Greg Rosenfeld, Amy Morse and Richard Lubin wrote in their motion to set conditions of pretrial release. "Any continued restrictions on her liberty are both punitive and a violation of the presumption of innocence."

They went on to claim that Keen-Warren "is an innocent woman" who should be placed on house arrest until her trial begins.

Sheila Keen-Warren mugshot from October 2017
Sheila Keen-Warren, pictured here after her arrest in 2017, is accused of dressing up as a clown and killing her future husband's wife in 1990.

During the hearing, Keen-Warren's attorneys questioned the lead detective in the case over inconsistencies in witness statements.

However, Palm Beach County Judge Scott Suskauer appeared to grow frustrated with Keen-Warren's lawyers and their lengthy line of questioning as the hearing dragged on throughout the afternoon.

Suskauer repeatedly noted they were going over evidence already submitted to the court. At one point, the judge reminded one of the attorneys that an hour earlier he said he only needed 45 more minutes for questioning.

Near the end of the hearing, Keen-Warren's son took the stand as a character witness, telling the court he would allow her to stay with him if she was released on bond and would comply with any terms of her house arrest until trial.

A November court filing by assistant state attorney Reid Scott details the evidence that prosecutors plan to present during trial.

Among the evidence is testimony from two Publix employees who recalled a woman "purchasing the exact flower and balloon ensemble found at the scene less than two hours before the murder." Scott noted that the Publix was about a mile away from where Keen-Warren lived at the time.

Two employees at a West Palm Beach costume shop also testified that a woman purchased a clown costume there two days before the shooting. The woman told the employees that she "needed enough white makeup to cover the entire face and that the costume would be for a female."

Reid also detailed how detectives found the LeBaron abandoned in a Winn-Dixie parking lot on Okeechobee Road. Inside the getaway car, Reid wrote, was hair from the wig that matched the hairs found on Keen-Warren's boots.

Suskauer did not issue a ruling, instead directing both sides to submit written arguments first.

The case is currently set for trial in September.