The trial of a woman accused of dressing as a clown and killing her lover’s wife in 1990 has been delayed for the sixth time.
The murder trial for Sheila Keen-Warren, 58, was slated to begin on June 3 for the decades-old murder of Marlene Warren, 40, according to the Palm Beach Post. On Tuesday, the defendant’s attorneys, citing several obstacles, said they were unprepared to proceed with the upcoming trial.
Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Scott Suskauer lamented approving the defense’s request, which could push the trial back another four months.
“Think about the impact it has on me. I have a duty to the public,” Suskauer said. “You also have a victim’s family that has waited a long time for justice.”
Assistant State Attorney Reid Scott initially rejected the notion of another delay, but ultimately agreed to the request.
“I want this defendant to be fully prepared for trial,” said Scott. “I don’t want to deal with appellate issues.”
The State's Attorney's Office confirmed to Oxygen.com that they agreed to the continuance, but would not comment further.
On May 26, 1990, prosecutors say Keen-Warren went to Marlene Warren’s Wellington, Florida, home dressed as a clown, donning an orange wig, red nose, and white make-up. When Marlene – the wife of Keen-Warren’s lover, Michael Warren – answered the door, Keen-Warren allegedly pulled a pistol from a floral and balloon arrangement and shot the victim in the face.
Marlene died as a result of her injuries days later.
Marlene’s son and two of his friends were in the home when the shooting occurred, according to the Post. They didn’t see the shooter, but Keen-Warren was later suspected to be the woman witnesses saw buying a clown costume from a West Palm Beach shop two days earlier.
Orange fibers were later found in a white Chrysler seen pulling into Marlene’s driveway just before the shooting, authorities said. According to the Post, the car was linked to Michael Warren’s car rental company.
Although Keen-Warren was a person of interest early in the investigation, she wasn’t charged. She went on to marry Michael Warren – who had an alibi on the day of the shooting – and took his last name in 2002.
Keen-Warren and Michael Warren eventually moved to Tennessee, where they owned The Purple Cow restaurant until 2016. There, the defendant allegedly drunkenly bragged to coworkers about killing Marlene.
In 2017, new DNA technology allegedly linked Keen-Warren to the crime scene, resulting in her arrest in Virginia. Keen-Warren has denied having a role in jailhouse letters made public.
“I just don’t understand why we can’t get this nightmare over with,” she wrote her mother in 2019. “Innocent people shouldn’t be made to sit in jail this long waiting on trial to prove [they’re] innocent.”
Prosecutors stated their intention to seek the death penalty should Keen-Warren be found guilty of first-degree murder at trial, which was supposed to begin in 2020.
In their recent request for a delay, defense attorneys said they struggled to chase down key witnesses, accusing prosecutors of withholding names and addresses.
The defense further blamed them for their “backwards prosecution,” alleging the state continued their investigation following Keen-Warren’s arrest instead of arresting her after the police’s investigation concluded.
The defense said they’d be prepared by October.
Judge Suskauer noted that he had a full schedule and was “booked solid,” claiming the trial might have to be put on hold until 2023.