Owens Given Life Without Parole

By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia

Marian Owens, the woman convicted of stabbing and beating an elderly Lavonia man to death in his home two years ago, will spend the rest of her life in prison with no hope of parole.

The 40-year old Owens was sentenced by Franklin County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Malcom Friday morning.

Owens was convicted on August 9 of malice murder, felony murder and two counts of aggravated assault in the death of Janes on December 23, 2011.

Before sentencing, the Judge heard from the family of 71-year old Tommy Cleveland Janes.

Choking back tears Friday morning, Janes’ son, Tommy James, told the court his father was a kind man who would help anybody he could.

He said his dad was his grandchildren’s best friend and he would never be able to watch his great-grandchildren grow.

Reading from a prepared statement, Janes’ second son, Carl said his dad was a good Christian and said, “We can’t call him anymore, we can’t go see him. He was the only parent I had left.”

Owens’ attorney, Harvey Wasserman, pleaded for a life sentence with the possibility of parole in 30 years, which would make Owens 70 years old at the time of her release.

Wasserman admitted Janes’ was a horrific murder, but said his client had admitted to the crime in testimony and had apologized for her actions.

He said Owens was mentally ill, but she had no criminal history and her crime did not rise to the level of a hate crime with malice of forethought. Wasserman said if released at age 70, she would have time to do some good with her life.

But Northern Circuit District Attorney Parks White called the murder the most egregious crime he had ever tried.

And he pointed out that the results of a mental evaluation by a state appointed psychologist found that Owens was not delusional as she claimed but had faked mental illness when convenient for her and had lied repeatedly.

In handing down his sentence, Judge Malcom addressed Owens and the evidence showed Janes had made no attempt to sexually assault Owens had she had claimed, but the opposite, noting when paramedics arrived, they found Janes fully clothed.

“His shirt was buttoned, his pants belted and zipped,” the Judge said. “In your own testimony you admitted to voluntarily taking off your clothes that morning while he was making you breakfast, and that Mr. Janes had asked you to put your clothes back on.”

Judge Malcom also noted Janes had only a few defensive wounds meaning he had little time to react when Owens attacked him from behind, stabbing him in the back six times and delivering 37 blows to his head with a nutcracker.

“I find this was the murder of a kind, elderly man who gave you a place to stay when you had no place to go,” Malcom said.

Owens was sentenced to life without parole on all counts.  She has 30 days to request a new trial or appeal her sentence.

“I’m very pleased with the sentence and with the work Mr. White did for our family,” Tommy James said afterward.