Florida Executes Duane Owen for Double Murder
The State of Florida carried out its fourth execution of the year, putting Duane Owen to death for the 1984 murders of two women.
The state of Florida, United States, executed Duane Owen on Thursday after he was sentenced to death for the brutal murders of two women in 1984. Owen’s execution was carried out despite appeals by his lawyers for a stay due to his serious mental issues, which were ultimately denied.
Lethal Injection Carried Out at Raiford State Prison
Owen, who was 62 years old, received a lethal injection at 18:14 local time (22:14 GMT) at Raiford State Prison in North Florida. He was pronounced dead shortly after the procedure was administered, as confirmed by the Florida Department of Corrections.
A History of Capital Punishment in Florida
This marks the 103rd execution in Florida since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976. Currently, there are 300 prisoners on death row in the state, including three women.
Duane Owen’s Final Moments
Owen’s last day began at 7:00 local time (11:00 GMT), adding a somber note to his impending fate. As stated by Kayla McLaughlin-Smith, the spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Corrections, Owen enjoyed a last meal consisting of a bacon cheeseburger (without the bun), onion rings, strawberries, a vanilla milkshake, and coffee. These details were revealed during a press conference.
McLaughlin-Smith also informed reporters that Owen did not receive any visitors before his execution.
Florida’s Lethal Injection Option
Since 2000, Florida has allowed death row inmates to choose lethal injection as an alternative method of execution, rather than the electric chair.
A Gruesome Crime and Conviction
Owen had been on death row for 37 years after being convicted of the murders of Karen Slattery, a 14-year-old student who was stabbed and sexually assaulted, and Georgian Worden, a mother of two who was attacked with a hammer and raped.
Two Disturbing Cases in Palm Beach County
The heinous crimes committed by Owen took place in Palm Beach County, Florida, during 1984. These incidents, with only a few weeks between them, were both confessed to by Owen shortly after his arrest.
Separate trials were conducted for each case, resulting in death sentences for Owen in both instances.
Appeals Denied for Mental Health Concerns
Despite two appeals filed by Owen’s legal team, his execution was not stayed due to his serious mental health problems. Both Justice Clarence Thomas of the US Supreme Court and District Judge Rodney Smith rejected the appeals, following previous unsuccessful attempts at other levels.
Conflicting Opinions on Mental Health
A team of psychiatrists appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis evaluated Owen’s mental health last May and determined that he was “pretending” to have serious mental illnesses. However, the defense argued that his schizophrenia and dementia were genuine, rendering him ineligible for capital punishment under the Constitution.
The Defense’s Plea for Constitutional Rights
In an appeal to Judge Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court, Owen’s defense attorneys emphasized his right to have his sentence conform to the Constitution. They expressed concerns over the denial of meaningful judicial review, which they claimed was a violation of his due process rights.
Florida Supreme Court Rejects Appeals
Seven justices from the Florida Supreme Court also refused to stay Owen’s execution and rejected additional requests from the defense. This included a plea for imaging tests to assess the state of Owen’s brain.
Protests from the Catholic Church
The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops petitioned Governor DeSantis to halt Owen’s execution on May 31 and commute his sentence to life without parole. However, their plea was not granted.
Controversy Surrounding Capital Punishment
Since 1973, over 190 individuals have been released from death row in the US due to evidence of their innocence. Florida has the highest number of exonerations at 30, followed by Illinois with 22 and Texas with 16.
(With information from EFE and AP)