A Florida judge has reluctantly delayed the trial of a woman accused of dressing up as a clown and shooting her lover’s wife to death more than 30 years ago after defense attorneys said they were having a hard time contacting witnesses.
the trial forit was supposed to start on June 3. But on Tuesday, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Scott Suskauer agreed to what could be a four-month delay, the Palm Beach Post reported.
Suskauer said he had already cleared his schedule, delaying other trials and hearings so he could preside over a three-week trial.
“Think of the impact it has on me. I have a duty to the public,” Suskauer told attorneys. “You also have the family of a victim who has waited a long time for justice.”
This is the sixth time the trial has been delayed.
It was May 1990 when 40-year-old Marlene Warren opened her door to find a clown wearing an orange wig, a red nose, but normal high-top shoes with carnations on them. According to a Sun-Sentinel report the day after the murder, the suspect was carrying two balloons, one that read “You’re the best!”
His son, then 20, and his friends, who were at the house, say the clown delivered the gifts to him. The clown, without saying a word, shot her in the face, walked slowly to a Chrysler LeBaron convertible and walked away from her.
The former Sheila Keen,with Marlene Warren’s husband, Michael Warren, she was considered a suspect, but the case against her seemed weak. Two nights before the murder, a woman showed up at a costume shop and told employees that she badly needed a clown outfit, an orange wig, white gloves, a red nose, and enough white makeup to completely cover her face. . One of the employees identified her from a row of photos, but the other employee wasn’t sure about her.
She later married Michael Warren and they were living in Virginia when investigators said DNA provided the evidence they needed to.
Assistant State’s Attorney Reid Scott agreed that the latest delay was unavoidable.
“I want this defendant to be fully prepared for trial,” Scott said. “I don’t want to deal with appeal issues.”
The defense team, Richard Lubin, Greg Rosenfeld and Amy Morse, blamed Scott, writing that he failed to provide them with the names and addresses of key witnesses who are now scattered across the country.
The defense team also said they need to see evidence, including hair fibers, two balloons, a Publix bag and car rental documents, that were not in an evidence locker at the sheriff’s office. Those items had been sent to coroners for further review, they said.
“Usually a criminal prosecution is straightforward: the police investigate a crime, the police arrest a suspect, and the state prosecutes the suspect,” but this case has not been handled that way, they wrote.
“After the arrest, the police and the state continued their investigation,” they wrote. “This retrograde prosecution has hampered Ms. Keen-Warren’s ability to prepare for trial.”
Because so much time has passed since the murder, affidavits have been taken from some witnesses who are unable or unwilling to appear.
“This is a very difficult situation,” Lubin told the newspaper. “This is a long-ago event. The witnesses are in their 60s, 70s, 80s. Some of them are dead. Others are weakened.”