US man executed in Florida for rapes, murders in 1984

The US state of Florida on Thursday executed a man convicted of murdering and sexually assaulting two women in 1984, rejecting a final plea of insanity.

Duane Owen, 62, was put to death by lethal injection at Florida State Prison at 6:14 pm (2214 GMT) “without incident,” Florida Department of Corrections spokeswoman Kayla McLaughlin said.

In one of the murders, Owen broke into a home in the southern Florida city of Boca Raton and bludgeoned a 38-year-old woman to death with a hammer as her children slept in other rooms, then sexually assaulted her, a jury found in 1988.

Her children discovered her body the next morning as they prepared for school.

At trial, Owen confessed to the murder of the woman, who was not further identified in court documents since she was a sexual assault victim.

After reaching a verdict on Owen’s guilt, the jury recommended a death sentence on a 10-to-2 vote, and the trial judge followed the jury’s recommendation.

Owen was convicted separately of the fatal stabbing and rape of a 14-year-old babysitter at a home in Delray Beach earlier the same year.

In a petition to the US Supreme Court, Owen’s attorneys argued that he was insane and should not be executed.

In the state’s response, it noted that at a psychiatric hearing on May 23, a clinical psychologist said he had met with Owen twice that month and found him to be suffering from dementia, schizophrenia, and gender dysphoria.

Owen provided details to the psychologist of seven rapes, five attempted murders, and the two actual murders he committed, the response stated.

The Supreme Court rejected the petition, allowing the execution to go ahead.

Owen was the 13th person put to death in the United States this year.