On Tuesday, Sheila Keen-Warren pleaded guilty to the 1990 murder of Marlene Warren in a Palm Beach County courtroom. Warren, 40, was shot in the face in the doorway of her Florida home on May 26, 1990, by Keen-Warren, who authorities say was dressed as a clown.
The investigation into Warren’s murder lasted nearly three decades before authorities finally arrested Keen-Warren in 2017. Advances in DNA technology allegedly linked her to the crime, and she was later extradited to Palm Beach County, Fla., where she was awaiting trial on a first-degree murder charge.
Keen-Warren was initially expected to face a life sentence if convicted in a jury trial but instead entered a plea agreement on Tuesday. The plea agreement asks for a 12-year sentence rather than the probable life term she could have received if convicted.
According to prosecutors, they long suspected Keen-Warren, who was allegedly dressed as a clown bearing a bouquet of carnations and two balloons when she confronted Warren in front of her home and shot her before calmly fleeing the scene in a white convertible.
The case went cold for almost 30 years but was reopened in 2014 when authorities said advances in DNA technology led to her arrest. Among the evidence prosecutors say suggests Keen-Warren was the killer was a white Chrysler LeBaron found days after the murder, which contained evidence including long brown human hairs and “orange-like fibers,” authorities said. Additionally, local costume store workers claimed they saw a woman who prosecutors said was subsequently identified as Keen-Warren buying a clown outfit a few days before the homicide.
Keen-Warren’s attorney, Greg Rosenfeld, maintains his client’s innocence, calling the deal, “an incredible win for Ms. Keen-Warren,” he told CBS News. Rosenfeld said Keen-Warren could be back on the streets in less than one year.
Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg countered Rosenfeld’s statement, saying Keen-Warren will spend a minimum of two years behind bars.
Warren’s then 21-year-old son, Joseph Ahrens, confronted his mother’s alleged killer via video in court this week.
“The only thing I want to say is, all through this trial, I didn’t see any remorse,” Ahrens said. “God be with her.”