A Florida man was executed for killing a 14-year-old babysitter and a 38-year-old mother of two in separate 1984 attacks in Palm Beach County while children were sleeping in the homes he targeted. Duane Owen, one of Florida’s longest-held death row inmates, was 23 at the time of the attacks and 62 when he was executed, reports the Associated Press. Owen was sentenced to death for the March 24, 1984, rape and fatal stabbing of Karen Slattery, 14, and for the rape and deadly hammer attack two months later on Georgianna Worden, 38. Authorities said Owen attacked two other women in Palm Beach County who survived.
Besides his death sentences, he also had received six life sentences. Several family members of the victims witnessed the execution. After the execution, Slattery’s younger sister, Debbi Johnson, who sat in the front row, called Owen a coward. “He didn’t open his eyes,” Johnson said. “I know because I looked at them.” It was Florida’s fourth execution this year after a hiatus in which there were none since 2019. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed each of the death warrants in the months before announcing he was running for president. Owen’s lawyers argued that he was schizophrenic and suffered from delusions. Prosecutors said that while Owen had mental health issues, nothing would preclude his being executed because he was aware it was punishment for his crimes. Psychiatrists for the state testified that Owen’s schizophrenia was something he discussed when being evaluated, but he otherwise showed no signs of the illness.