Trial delayed in ‘killer clown’ case over new disclosure in 1990 murder

Author: Associated Press / CBS News Staff
Sheila Keen Warren, left, was arrested in Virginia in the 1990 death of Marlene Warren, right. WNCN-TV

The trial of a Florida woman accused of dressing up as a clown in 1990 and fatally shooting the wife of a man she later married has been postponed following the disclosure of a law enforcement file containing information about other clown-sighting leads at the time.

Prosecutors informed defense attorneys for Sheila Keen Warren on Wednesday that they had found a “clown sighting file” which defense attorneys had been demanding, but prosecutors had been saying they didn’t have, according to a court filing by defense attorneys in Palm Beach County case.

Defense attorneys in the motion asked for a delay in the first-degree murder trial which was scheduled to start the next week. The jury trial was canceled on Friday.

Defense attorneys also are seeking sanctions against prosecutors for what they say are instances of failing to disclose evidence to the defendant and are asking that Keen Warren be allowed pretrial release from jail.

The 25-page “clown sighting file” has the names, addresses or phone numbers of 40 credible leads, according to the court filing from defense attorneys.

“Needless to say this will take the defense considerable time and resources to investigate,” the defense attorneys said.

It was May 1990 when Marlene Warren, 40, opened her door to find a clown in an orange wig, a red nose but normal high-top shoes holding carnations. According to a report in the Sun-Sentinel the day after the killing, the suspect was carrying two balloons — one saying “You’re the greatest!”

Her then 20-year-old son and his friends, who were in the house, say the clown handed her the gifts. The clown without saying a word then shot her in the face, walked slowly to a Chrysler LeBaron convertible and drove away.

The former Sheila Keen, rumored to be having an affair with Marlene Warren’s husband, Michael Warren, was considered a suspect, but the case against her seemed thin. Two nights before the killing, a woman showed up at a costume store telling clerks she urgently needed a clown suit, an orange wig, white gloves, a red nose and enough white makeup to cover her face completely. One of the clerks identified her in a photo lineup, but the other clerk wasn’t sure.

Keen Warren was arrested in 2017 in Abingdon, Virginia. Detectives at the time said advances in DNA technology, combined with evidence gathered decades ago, showed Keen Warren was the killer. At the time of the shooting, she was an employee of Marlene Warren’s husband at his used car lot. They married in 2002.

Keen Warren has pleaded not guilty.

This is at least the seventh time the trial has been postponed. It was supposed to begin June 3, but in May a judge delayed the trial after defense attorneys said they were having a hard time contacting witnesses.

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.