Owens Found Guilty in Janes Murder

Marian OwensA guilty verdict for the woman who beat and stabbed an elderly Lavonia man to death.

It took a Franklin County Superior Court jury about two hours Friday to find 40-year old Marian Owens guilty of felony murder, malice murder, and two counts of aggravated assault in the death of  Tommy Cleveland Janes, 71, at his home on SR59 on December 23, 2011.

Owens showed no emotion as Superior Court Judge Jeffery Malcom read the verdict at about 1:30 Friday afternoon.

During closing arguments Friday morning, Northern Judicial District Attorney Parks White went over the definitions of felony murder, malice murder and aggravated assault, as well as the definition of voluntary manslaughter.

White said it was a clear-cut case of murder – pointing to Owens’ own admission on the stand that she stabbed Janes in the back and hit him repeatedly in the head with a nutcracker.

Owens had testified on the stand for several hours Thursday that she attacked Janes because she thought he was going to sexually assault her and because she thought he had demons and that she also had demons.

But White pointed out that when paramedics and law enforcement arrived on the scene, Janes was fully clothed.

“His pants were zipped up and belted,” White told jurors. “There was no evidence that Mr. Janes had tried to sexually assault Ms Owens.”

Two Franklin County Sheriff’s deputies who were first to answer the 911 call of a disturbance at Janes’ home, had earlier testified they found Owens, naked, standing over Janes’ bloody body, chanting and singing hymns, covered in blood and holding a nutcracker in her hand.

Owen’s attorney, Harvey Wasserman, told the jury his client had “serious, serious mental health problems.”  And he said the defense he had told the jury during opening arguments he planned to present had deteriorated when Owens insisted on taking the stand.

Wasserman pointed out that his client, while mentally ill, had never been physically violent before and something must have triggered her violence against Janes.

“Something must have happened inside that home that prompted her actions,” Wasserman told the jury. “The State has not proven malice murder or felony murder beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Wasserman said there was enough reasonable doubt to find a verdict of voluntary manslaughter, but White said the case was about finding the truth and not finding doubt.

“Only one person was fighting for their life in that house, and it was Mr. Janes, a kind man who made the mistake of trying to help Ms Owens,” White said.

Afterwards, White said he was ultimately pleased with the verdict.

 “She was evaluated and it was determined she knew right from wrong and did not suffer from the legal definition of insanity at the time of the offense,” White said. “I think the jury came to the right verdict.”

White thanked the Franklin County Sheriff’s investigators for their hard work, which he said resulted in Ms. Owens’ conviction.

Wasserman said he was not happy with the jury’s decision, but would accept it.

 “Well of course not,” Wasserman said. “I think it was a manslaughter case, but the evidence could in fact have supported the jury’s verdict. That’s the decision they made and I respect it.”  

Sentencing for Owens will come at a later date after Judge Malcom reviews the pre-sentencing investigative report.

According to White, Owens will either receive life or life without parole.  If she receives life, she will be eligible for parole in 30 years, he said.