Statewide vigils protest execution of Duane Owen

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Mark Elliott holds a sign at the Pinellas Park protest on Thursday. Ta'Leah Van Sistine/WMNF News

Vigils and demonstrations were held across the state on Thursday night to protest the execution of Duane Owen.

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A small group gathered on a street corner in Pinellas Park as a part of the statewide protest. They held signs that announced their opposition to the death penalty, including one that said, “Violence is not the cure. It is the disease.”

Duane Owen received the death penalty after being convicted for murdering Georgianna Worden and Karen Slattery in 1984.

Protestors at the event said the horror of Owen’s crimes shouldn’t be overlooked, but they don’t believe executing Owen brings honor to the victims.

Mark Elliott is a member of the organization Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. 

At the Pinellas Park protest, he noted that Owen was on death row for almost 40 years. Prisoners sentenced to death typically wait more than a decade before they’re executed, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Elliott said this waiting period prolongs the nightmare for victims’ families. 

“A prison sentence for life without parole is carried out immediately,” he said. “There’s no wait for justice. Things can kinda move on.” 

While standing on the corner with his sign, Elliott said drivers passing by would occasionally honk their horns and flash a thumbs-up in support of the protest.

Elliott considers those responses, as well as nationwide polling about capital punishment, to mean that more and more people are beginning to oppose the death penalty.

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