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Killer clown suspect 'innocent' and should be released on bond, defense attorneys say

Sheila Keen-Warren accused of dressing as clown, killing future husband’s wife in 1990
Sheila Keen-Warren mugshot from October 2017
Posted at 1:16 PM, Jan 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-04 13:51:36-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Attorneys for a woman accused of dressing up as a clown and killing her future husband's wife in 1990 claim their client is "innocent" and should be released from jail.

Defense attorneys filed a motion Monday 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.

"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."

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."

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

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

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.

"In this case, the proof is not evident, and the presumption is not great," her attorneys wrote. "Ms. Keen-Warren is therefore entitled to a bond."

They went on to say that Keen-Warren "is neither a danger to the community nor a flight risk."

"Sheila Keen-Warren is an innocent woman," they wrote. "Considering her ties to the community, her lack of criminal history and the lack of any reliable evidence implicating her in this offense, this court should release Ms. Keen-Warren on a reasonable monetary bond."

But 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.

Defense attorneys are asking that Keen-Warren be placed on house arrest until her trial, which is scheduled to begin in April.