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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Forsythia Owen Murder Case

     On September 25, 2002, 19-year-old Forsythia Owen and her boyfriend of nine months got into an argument in the living room of her Denver, Colorado apartment. Before the fight broke out she had impaired him by slipping a drug into his drink. In the course of the dispute Owen grabbed a knife from the kitchen and stabbed the man in the chest.

     Paramedics rushed the victim to a nearby hospital where he survived his puncture wound. (I don't know who called 911.) Owen greeted police officers at the scene by saying, "I'm the one who stabbed him. Arrest me." And that's what the officers did.

     A local prosecutor charged Forsythia Owen with assault with a deadly weapon causing serious bodily harm. Pursuant to a plea deal, the assistant district attorney allowed Owen to plead guilty to the lesser offense of felony assault. The prosecutor dropped charges related to Owen's assault of police officers while in custody.

     In January 2003, the judge sentenced Owen to four years probation.

     Owen, a serious abuser of cocaine, alcohol, and methamphetamine, had been diagnosed as having a "mood disorder" and "attention-deficit/hyperactivity." Because of her substance abuse, psychiatrists were unable to determine the degree to which she may have been psychotic as well. (Her future behavior would suggest a bad case of paranoid schizophrenia.)

     Ten months into her probation, a drug treatment administrator kicked Owen out of the program for "non-compliance" and "minimal progress" for continuing to use cocaine and meth. Rather than send Owen to prison, probation officials enrolled her in a Denver community corrections program. After refusing to cooperate with the social workers trying to help her, the judge, in December 2004, sent Owen to prison for three years. If they couldn't fix this woman the authorities could at least get her off the street.

     In 2013, the 30-year-old ex-felon lived in the Denver suburb of Englewood with her 12-year-old daughter. On Sunday morning, September 22, 2013, Englewood police officers responded to a 911 call concerning a badly beaten man lying in an alley. Officers found 42-year-old Denzel Rainey in the alley bleeding from a severe blunt force head wound and other injuries. Paramedics rushed Rainey to the Swedish Medical Center where he died a short time later.

     Mr. Rainey, married with three children, had for years struggled with alcohol abuse that had led to his homelessness. He had been attacked in the alley where he slept at night.

     According to the forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy, Mr. Rainey had a fractured skull, lacerated liver, broken arms, fractured left hand, and six broken ribs. The medical examiner's office listed the cause of death as blunt force trauma. The manner of death: homicide.

     On Monday, the day after the attack in the Englewood alley, detectives spoke to a man who said that one of his neighbors, a woman named Forsythia Owen, had come to his house on Sunday with a story about a man who had inappropriately touched and abused her daughter. The man she accused was the homeless guy who had just been murdered in the alley.

     Later that day, when questioned by detectives, Owen admitted beating the man in the alley with a baseball bat. After confronting him about molesting her daughter, she started swinging the bat. Advised of her Miranda rights, Owen said, "I need a lawyer."

     An Arapahoe County prosecutor charged Forsythia Owen with first-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon causing serious bodily harm. A magistrate denied Owen bond after the police booked her into the Arapahoe County Detention Center.

     Denzel Rainey, other than having driving under the influence convictions and an arrest for marijuana possession, did not have a criminal record. Moreover, there was no information on record regarding accusations of sexual offenses. Rainey's widow, Lisa, told reporters that "I just don't know what caused her to do that to Denzel. If he did anything to provoke the attack, I need to know the answers for closure for me and closure for my kids."

     In speaking to a correspondent with a Denver television affiliate, Lisa Rainey said, "I think Owen is covering for somebody, and I want to know: what was the real reason why she did that to my husband. He doesn't deserve to be dead. He would never hurt a child."

     At a March 17, 2014 pre-trial hearing, Owen's attorney, Joe Archembault, pleaded her not guilty by reason of insanity. Judge Marilyn Antrim ordered the defendant to undergo psychiatric evaluation at the mental health Institute in Pueblo, Colorado.

     The Arapahoe County prosecutor dropped the first-degree murder charge against Owen to second-degree murder and added first-degree assault and the charge of tampering with evidence.

     The Owen murder trial got underway on February 4, 2015. Just ten days later the jury, having rejected the insanity defense, found the defendant guilty as charged.

     On May 9, 2015, Judge Marilyn Leonard Antrim sentenced the 32-year-old Owen to 38 years in prison.

1 comment:

  1. Daughter was 5 years old when the crime took place.

    ReplyDelete