A judge has ruled that Sheila Keen-Warren should not be freed from jail ahead of her approaching murder trial, according to reports.
Keen-Warren, 59, is accused of dressing up as a clown and gunning down the wife of her lover, Marlene Warren, on the couple's south Florida doorstep in 1990, but was only arrested in 2017. She has been jailed for approximately five years awaiting trial in the case, but has long maintained her innocence in the incident.
Her lawyers had asked that she be granted pre-trial release given the delays in her case, some of which the judge admitted were prosecutors' fault, and because they claimed the case was purely circumstantial
"Ms. Keen-Warren is presumed to be innocent," Sheila Keen-Warren’s lawyer, Greg Rosenfeld, wrote in pre-trial court records. "She should not be punished and should not have to sit in jail pretrial, because the State repeatedly fails to follow the law."
Photo: Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office
In the ruling, the case’s judge concluded that prosecutors had sufficient evidence to convict Keen-Warren of the murder and noted the possibility of Keen-Warren being a flight risk given her finances, Tequesta, Florida ABC affiliate WPBF reported.
“While the Court is cognizant of the delays in this case, especially the most recent delays attributable to the State….Defendant’s pending Motion to Set Conditions of Pretrial Release is DENIED," Despite Judge Scott Suskauer wrote in his order, per a Fox News report.
Prosecutors allege that, on May 26, 1990, then-Sheila Keen donned an orange wig, red nose and high-top shoes and went to Marlene and Michael Warren's home in Wellington, Florida — about 70 miles north of Miami. When Marlene Warren answered the door, Keen — who was holding two balloons and carrying carnations — allegedly shot her in the face with a .38 caliber pistol without saying a word.
"Marlene answered the front door and as the clown offered the items to her, witnesses heard a gunshot and Marlene fell to the ground," law enforcement said of the incident. "The person dressed as a clown calmly walked back to the [white convertible] LeBaron and drove away."
Photo: Getty Images
Marlene Warren died in the hospital two days after the shooting. Keen and Michael Warren, who had been having an affair at the time of his wife's murder, became suspects within a few weeks, but any involvement in the murder couldn't be proven at the time, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
What prosecutors could, however, prove was that Michael Warren, who operated a used car lot, had been rolling back the odometers on his vehicles, the paper reported. He was ultimately convicted of several related felonies and served four years in prison.
Five years after his 1997 release, Michael Warren and Sheila Keen married in Las Vegas. She took his last name and the two moved to southwest Virginia.
Keen-Warren was arrested for Marlene Warren's murder in 2017, nearly three decades after the slaying, after police said new DNA evidence tied her to the crime scene.
According to Keen-Warren's legal team, however, the state thereafter failed to disclose exculpatory evidence until shortly before what was supposed to be Keen-Warren's trial in October. It's now tentatively scheduled for early 2023.
Her attorney has said that evidence includes an interview with a man who allegedly confessed to Warren’s killing.
"She did not commit this crime," Rosenthal also told Fox News in an email. "The defense team will continue to fight and Ms. Keen-Warren is looking forward to having her day in court."
Keen-Warren’s legal team has also cited in her defense a 1990 “Clown Sighting File," which they claim includes reliable leads involving at least 40 sightings of individuals dressed as clowns around the time of the killing, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.
In a series of jailhouse letters made public in 2019, Keen-Warren again reaffirmed her innocence.
“I just don’t understand why we can’t get this nightmare over with,” she stated in a letter to her mother in 2019. “Innocent people shouldn’t be made to sit in jail this long waiting on trial to prove [they’re] innocent.”