Click here for Part I of this series: The Horrific Childhood of Duane Owen
Soon after Duane left the VFW home, in 1981, when he was only 19 years old, he suffered a head injury “when a car that had been jacked up fell on his head.”
In 1984, a 23-year-old Duane committed the tragic murders of Karen Slattery and Georgianna Worden. At the 1999 retrial for one murder, Duane Owen pursued an insanity defense.
Dr. Frederick Berlin testified that Owen had “one or more psychiatric disorders… gender identity disorder, paraphiliac sexual disorder, and schizophrenia.” Dr. Berlin explained schizophrenia as “one of the major illnesses [in] which a loss of touch with reality is one of the cardinal features.” And that the “primary factor” that led him to this diagnosis was that Duane “appeared to be delusional.”
Dr. Berlin testified that Duane’s beliefs “have been in Mr. Owen over a sustained period of time, since early childhood, independent of any mood change.” Dr. Berlin concluded that, to a reasonable medical certainty based on Duane’s severe mental illness, schizophrenia, Duane Owen was insane at the time of the crime.
Dr. Faye Sultan testified that, upon meeting Owen, it became clear “that there were very severe mental illnesses involved.” Dr. Sultan spent approximately 20 hours with Duane.
Dr. Sultan testified that “the principal diagnosis” is a psychotic disorder, and that Owen “meets most of the criteria” for a delusional disorder and “for a diagnosis of schizophrenia.”
Dr. Sultan testified that Owen “has a very severe gender identity disorder.” She also testified that Duane Owen had never received treatment for those illnesses, which do not “disappear without treatment.”
Dr. Sultan testified that intellectually, Owen functions as a young adolescent, around 11 or 12 years old, and emotionally, his functioning is even lower.
Over Dr. Sultan’s five years working with Owen, his behavior remained entirely consistent. With his IQ in the mid-80s, “it would require a great deal of intelligence to be able to devise that kind of elaborate scheme.”
Dr. Sultan testified, “There is nothing in my evaluation of Mr. Owen that would lead me to believe that he was motivated by the need to hurt another person, to torture another person, to make another person suffer.”
Dr. Sultan concluded that Mr. Owen was “very, very mentally ill,” and “probably among the most mentally ill of all people” she’d seen during her career.
Dr. Sultan concluded that, to a reasonable medical certainty, Duane Owen was insane at the time of the crime.