Owen’s attorneys filed a motion challenging the commission’s determination, and a competency hearing was held on June 1 and 2, 2023, in Bradford County. Owen was physically present for the entire hearing.
The Defense called Dr. Eisenstein, who met again with Owen on May 30, after the Commission’s report was released. Dr. Eisenstein spent a total of just over 13 hours with Owen. Dr. Eisenstein issued a supplemental report on May 31.
Dr. Eisenstein stated that Owen displayed little emotion during their time together, “no modulation or no change in terms of his affect, very blunted, very withdrawn, not really expressing a whole lot of emotion.”
Dr. Eisenstein described Owen’s horrific childhood, stating, “I think the picture is pretty clear that poor Mr. Owen really didn’t have a chance.”
When asked whether Owen was malingering, Dr. Eisenstein stated, “He put forth full effort. He did not fake. He did not lie. He did not look worse than he is.”
Dr. Eisenstein stated that Owen “received a full scale IQ score of 92.” He continued that Owen’s “immediate memory was 67, and delayed memory was 69… That’s like the first and second percentile of the general population… So there’s almost a 30-point split between his IQ and his memory functioning.”
Dr. Eisenstein testified that Owen has “no rational appreciation of the connection between his crime and the punishment that he is to receive” and that Owen has “no rational understanding of the fact that he’s going to be executed for those reasons.
Dr. Eisenstein explained that Owen’s delusions have been consistent not only since the time of the murders, but throughout his entire life. When describing Owen’s beliefs, Dr. Eisenstein stated, “Obviously, this is not reality. It’s very psychotic, and yet he’s very fixed in that belief. That’s what makes it a fixed delusional. It’s unchanged.”
Dr. Frederick Berlin, M.D., Ph.D., submitted a written affidavit on June 2. He first became involved in Owen’s case after Owen wrote him a letter in 1994 inquiring about gender identity disorder. In 1996, Dr. Berlin conducted a “comprehensive psychiatric evaluation of Mr. Owen” and in evaluating Owen, Dr. Berlin “found no indication of malingering.”
“Mr. Owen suffer[s] from several psychiatric disorders, including gender identity disorder, paraphilic sexual disorder, and schizophrenia.”
Regarding Owen’s schizophrenia, “he consistently appeared to be out of touch with reality and delusional. His fixed, false beliefs appear to have been present over a long period of time, possibly since early childhood.”
Dr. Faye Sultan, who became involved in Owen’s case in 1994, submitted a written affidavit on May 26, 2023. She has spent “approximately 20 hours in direct contact with Duane Owen” and “approximately 30 hours” reviewing records and materials. Dr. Sultan stated that “when reviewing Mr. Owen’s prison records… there were extensive mental health records and psychiatric examination records concerning his psychological and psychiatric difficulties throughout the years.
Dr. Sultan stated that “Given Mr. Owen’s traumatic and so horribly perverted and dysfunctional childhood, combined with a complete lack of structure and guidance, it is no shock he developed severe mental illness.”
Dr. Sultan stated that in all of her time spent with Owen, she saw “no indication of malingering” and that there were “no signs of malingering in any of the testing” she conducted or results she reviewed from other experts/practitioners.
Dr. Sultan explained that Owen had experienced these severe, fixed delusions since he was young and that he was suffering from a delusional disorder at the time of the murders. Dr. Sultan opined that Owen’s diagnosis was “delusional disorder to the extreme, a particular subset of schizophrenia, very severe gender identity disorder falling under dysthymia, and [severe] paraphilia.”
Dr. Sultan explained that over the years she worked with Duane Owen, his behavior and delusions remained entirely consistent.