Per a report from regional outlet WPEC, suspect Sheila Keen-Warren pleaded guilty on Tuesday to second-degree murder. As the report notes, the case was slated to kick off a trial in May, with Tuesday’s news of a plea deal coming as a surprise to local experts who were closely watching the proceedings.
Keen-Warren, 59, has been behind bars since 2017, at which point advances in DNA tech led to her arrest. While Keen-Warren has repeatedly claimed innocence, even as she took a plea deal this week, prosecutors say she fatally shot Marlene Warren at her home in 1990. At the time, authorities say, Keen-Warren was dressed as a clown and holding flowers and balloons. One balloon, per a report surrounding news of Keen-Warren’s arrest, is said to have read, “You’re the greatest.”
Sheila Keen-Warren later married Michael Warren, who was Marlene’s husband at the time of her death.
In comments to WPEC, Keen-Warren’s lawyer said Tuesday’s second-degree murder admission saw his client admitting to something they “didn’t do.” The attorney, Greg Rosenfeld, also speculated that his client could be released in less than a year despite the 12-year sentence stemming from the deal.
According to Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg, however, Keen-Warren will remain behind bars for “at least” two more years.
When reached for comment by Complex on Wednesday, Aronberg said this week’s plea marked “a measure of justice” in the case. See more from Aronberg below.
“Thirty-three years after the murder of Marlene Warren, today we have obtained a measure of justice with the conviction and sentencing of her killer. After years of professing her innocence, Sheila Keen Warren has finally been forced to admit that she was the one who dressed as a clown and took the life of an innocent victim. She will be a convicted murderer for the rest of her days. The defendant has already served 2,039 days in solitary confinement at our county jail. She will now be transferred to state prison to serve the rest of her 12-year sentence.”
Complex has also reached out to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office for additional comment. This story may be updated.