ON June 1-2. 2023, THE FOLLOWING TESTIMONY WAS HEARD AT AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING REGARDING OWEN’S INSANITY TO BE EXECUTED:
Eric Pinkard, Esq. is a capital defense attorney who supervised Duane Owen’s case in 1999 and has known him for over 20 years and has met with him on many occasions. Mr. Pinkard witnessed the Governor’s commission of three psychiatrists evaluate Owen on May 23. Mr. Pinkard asked for it to be recorded, but Governor’s counsel objected.
Mr. Pinkard saw Duane Owen the day after the Governor signed his death warrant. He testified that “he just wasn’t the same Duane Owen that I had known before, as far as his cognitive ability.” Mr. Pinkard said that Owen “didn’t understand why the state was trying to execute him anyway because they knew that he hadn’t killed anybody,” and that the victims “were still with him to this day.”
The evaluation lasted “around an hour and 45 minutes.”
Owen actually spoke for “no more than 25 percent” of the evaluation, which would have been for about 26 minutes.
Mr. Pinkard heard Owen explain his decades-long entrenched delusional belief that “he hadn’t killed anybody and that the State was well aware of that because… testimony had been put forth that he didn’t kill the victim but… had taken them into his body…”
The psychiatrists raised their voices and yelled at Mr. Owen “for a very long period of time,” and that the evaluation became more of an “interrogation than a clinical interview.”
Once Owen articulated his delusion, the “whole rest of it was them trying to cross-examine him and try to break him down… To try to get him to admit that he knew he had really killed the victims.”
During the evaluation, Owen maintained that the victims live with him in his body. During the evaluation, Owen explained that “he didn’t want to kill the victims. He wanted to bring the victims into his body to live on.” Owen stated that “he doesn’t know why the State is trying to kill him… The State should know that he didn’t kill anybody.” Mr. Owen told the commission that he and his victims are friends.
Dr. Lazarou was “the most aggressive of the three of trying to question him to try to get him to admit that he knew he killed them,” and that she had crime scene photos in front of her.
Dr. Lazarou “just kept trying to get him to admit that he knew that they actually died.” She told Owen, with the crime photos, “You hit them… you know you killed them.”
Dr. Werner said to Owen, “You don’t really believe the State believes that you didn’t really kill them. Nobody believes your delusions Mr. Owen. We all know you really killed them.”
At one point in her interrogation, Dr. Lazarou said, “You know you killed them, and you know they’re rotting in their graves right now, Mr. Owen.”
Owen maintained that he did not kill anyone throughout the whole examination. Mr. Pinkard explained that he had witnessed many other mental evaluations before, but has “never seen anything like the evaluation” done by the three psychiatrists “in terms of being that aggressive to confront the person to try to get him to change his mind about something.”