Delay in Trial of Woman Accused of Being 'Killer Clown'

Lawyers for Sheila Keen-Warren say they need more time
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2022 1:05 PM CDT
Delay in Trial of Woman Accused in 1990 'Clown' Murder
The killer clown wore an orange wig.   (Getty Images/hanhanpeggy)

(Newser) – The details of the crime are perverse: Marlene Warren opened the door to her Wellington, Fla., home in 1990 to be greeted by a person dressed as a clown, holding carnations and balloons, including one that read, "You're the greatest." The clown shot Warren in the face before driving off in a Chrysler LeBaron convertible, say authorities. Now, a delay in the trial of the woman who was arrested for the murder in 2017. Attorneys for Sheila Keen-Warren, who married Marlene Warren's widower after the shooting, say they won't be ready to go June 3 due to the difficulty in locating witnesses who, as the Palm Peach Post puts it, "are dead, decrepit, or don't want to testify."

Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Scott Suskauer reluctantly approved the delay—the sixth in the case—which could push the trial out four months or more. Keen-Warren's defense claims the fault lies with prosecutors, whom they accuse of upending the normal order of things. "Following the arrest, the police and state continued their investigation," they say in court papers. "This backwards prosecution has hampered Ms. Keen-Warren's ability to prepare for trial." By way of example, they say that when they went to review what was in the evidence locker, they discovered the hair fibers, balloons, and car rental papers were undergoing additional testing with forensic experts.

The AP reports Keen-Warren was long considered a suspect, but the initial case against her was thin (her 2017 arrest was based on DNA evidence). Two nights prior to the killing, a woman told workers at a costume shop that she, in the AP's words, "urgently needed a clown suit, an orange wig, white gloves, a red nose, and enough white makeup to cover her face completely." One worker picked her photo out of a lineup, but the other wasn't sure. WPTV reports the defense in March accused the state of concealing a potential suspect. (Read more murder stories.)

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