Owen, who was sentenced to die after being convicted of brutally murdering a mother of two and a 14-year-old babysitter in 1984, was pronounced dead at 6:14 p.m. Thursday at Florida State Prison in Raiford.
A Florida Department of Corrections spokesperson said that Owen woke up at 7 a.m. on the day of his execution. At 9:45 a.m., he ate his last meal, which consisted of a bacon cheeseburger with no bun, onion rings, a vanilla milkshake, cherry ice cream, strawberries and coffee. Owen had no visitors.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a last-ditch request to halt the execution. Owen’s lawyer argued that the condemned man “lacks a rational understanding of the connection between his crime and impending execution due to his fixed psychotic delusions and dementia.” State courts previously ruled him sane for execution.
Owen was convicted and sentenced to death following two gruesome murders and sexual assaults that took place over the course of a few months in 1984.
On March 24 that year, Owen broke into the Delray Beach home of 14-year-old Karen Slattery, who was babysitting two young children. According to court records, Owen repeatedly stabbed Slattery, then sexually assaulted her. The children were not injured.
Slattery’s sister, Debbi Johnson, recently told the South Florida Sun Sentinel that she was glad Owen was being put to death. Johnson, who was 10 when her sister was murdered, said that she was unable to forgive Owen and that she did not “think there’s anything that I could say or he could say that would make a difference.”
Owen murdered 38-year-old Georgianna Worden a little over two months after Slattery, on May 29, 1984. Worden had been sleeping when Owen broke into her Boca Raton home and struck her in the head with a hammer multiple times before raping her, authorities said.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who signed Owen’s death warrant after ordering a brief stay to evaluate his mental competency in May, was urged to spare his life in a number of unsuccessful pleas from anti-death penalty and religious groups.
Michael Sheedy, executive director of the Florida College of Catholic Bishops, said that Owen had committed “senseless and horrific acts” in a letter to DeSantis, while urging the governor to respect the “sacredness of human life” by calling off the execution.
“Taking Mr. Owen’s life will not restore the lives of the victims,” Sheedy said. “Intentionally ending his life will do nothing but perpetuate violence in a society steeped in it … Society must be kept safe from Mr. Owen and those like him, but that can be done effectively without resorting to more violence.”
Owen was the fourth person put to death in Florida this year. A total of 103 prisoners have been executed in the Sunshine State since capital punishment was reinstated by the Supreme Court in 1976.
Newsweek has reached out to the Florida Department of Corrections via email for comment.
Published: 2023-06-16 00:10:57