Sheila Keen Warren will remain locked up in jail before her trial this year on allegations that she wore a clown costume while fatally shooting a woman 31 years ago in South Florida.
In a order released Friday, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Scott Suskauer denied bond for Warren in the high-profile killer clown case. He found prosecutors have enough evidence to persuade a jury to convict her on a first-degree murder charge, despite defense arguments that the “evidence is almost entirely circumstantial” and the clown was a man.
Suskauer also agreed with the prosecution that it’s too risky to free Warren because she has the money to flee to a country without an extradition treaty with the United States.
Prosecutors contend the evidence is “overwhelming” that Warren committed the May 26, 1990, slaying of Marlene Warren, 40, at the victim’s Wellington estate home. Authorities say the clown wore a orange yellow wig and clown costume, shot Marlene once in the face at close range, and got away in a stolen car.
The Warrens were not related, but there is a connection that hangs over the case: Sheila is accused of having an affair with Marlene’s husband, Michael, culminating in the marriage of Sheila and Michael in 2002.
“The evidence is clear that one person and one person alone committed the murder of Marlene Warren, that person being the Defendant,” Assistant State Attorney Reid Scott wrote in an April 13 pleading.
The prosecution points to hair and wig fiber samples collected from the getaway car, a white Chrysler LeBaron, found abandoned in a grocery store parking lot, four days after the shooting.
A 2016 FBI examination of a strand of burgundy head hair with the root attached concluded that “the skin portion of the hair root” was from Sheila, Scott said, adding she “could not be excluded” as the DNA source of the entire strand.
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But defense attorneys Greg Rosenfeld, Richard Lubin and Amy Morse claim the alleged DNA connection between Sheila and hair samples in evidence is “highly misleading” or false, making it clear she is innocent.
“The FBI’s raw data indicates that a male is the major contributor of the DNA,” Rosenfeld wrote on April 15. “In other words, most of the DNA found on the hair root belongs to a male, not Ms. Keen-Warren.”
The lawyers also argued witness accounts of the clown’s gender and height provide serious doubt that their client was the shooter. Despite the judge’s ruling on bond, the defense can raise all of the same issues before the jury.
The trial is scheduled to begin with jury selection Sept. 8.