A day after the Florida Supreme Court refused to issue a stay of the planned execution of Duane Owen, defense attorneys on Tuesday filed a brief that said he should not be put to death because of insanity.
The brief, filed at the Supreme Court, came after a North Florida circuit judge on Sunday found Owen sane to be executed.
The brief was part of a flurry of efforts by Owen’s attorneys to prevent a June 15 execution for the 1984 murder of a Palm Beach County woman. The brief pointed to the Eighth Amendment, which bars cruel and unusual punishment, and legal precedents that prevent executing people who are not mentally competent.
“Owen’s severe mental illness, delusions, and dementia inhibit his ability to rationally understand why the ultimate punishment is to be imposed upon him,” the brief said. “Owen is precisely the case that the Eighth Amendment seeks to protect.”
The Supreme Court on Monday refused to block the execution in a separate appeal dealing with Owen’s competence.
The brief filed Tuesday stemmed from a legal rule about holding hearings on whether prisoners would be insane at the time of execution.
Sunday’s ruling was issued by a judge in the 8th Judicial Circuit, which includes Florida State Prison, where Owen’s execution would be carried out.
Gov. Ron DeSantis on May 9 signed a death warrant for Owen, 62, in the murder of Georgianna Worden, who was bludgeoned with a hammer and sexually assaulted in her Boca Raton home in May 1984, according to the death warrant and court records.
Owen also was sentenced to death in the March 1984 murder of 14-year-old Karen Slattery, who was babysitting at a Delray Beach home, according to state and federal court documents. Slattery was stabbed to death.
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