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Cops and Courts

Defense claims 'mental defect' in murder case

  • Owens-Satterfield-jpg

    Lawyers for Roy Owens Jr., left, who is accused of killing his ex-girlfriend Linnea Satterfield, are claiming a mental defect stemming from an old head injury.

    PHOTOS PROVIDED

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ELYRIA — A man accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend is arguing that a more than 25-year-old head injury is a factor in his case.

Attorneys for Roy Owens Jr., 57, of Elyria, have filed a motion “to plead not guilty by reason of temporary mental defect.” Owens faces two counts of murder, one count of aggravated murder, two counts of felonious assault, one count of tampering with evidence and one count of abuse of a corpse in connection to the July 2017 killing of his ex-girlfriend, Linnea Satterfield.

Defense attorney J. Anthony Rich said the motion is a “more politically correct way of saying ‘not guilty by reason of insanity,’” which he feels is an antiquated term.

Rich said that Owens suffered a brain aneurysm in the 1990s and has had four surgeries on the frontal lobe of his brain as a result.

“What we’ve recently found is that when you have that kind of damage to the front, you basically have no feelings whatsoever,” he said. “They have case studies with women who have been mothers, and if they have a brain aneurysm, they have no feelings toward their own children. It’s very, very odd.”

Rich said he has practiced law for 21 years and had not heard of such a diagnosis until three or four months ago.

He said Owens’ defense team has been in contact with experts from the Joe Niekro Foundation on the matter. Niekro was a former Major League Baseball pitcher from Ohio who died of a brain aneurysm.

“We believe our client fits this diagnosis and concern to a T.”

Last year, Elyria police found blood and signs of a struggle in Owens’ Charles Court home in Elyria after Satterfield’s sister, Michele Plumley, called police to report her missing.

Later that week, Darke County sheriff deputies in southwestern Ohio received a call about an impaired driver and when they arrived, they found the car Owens was believed to be driving in a ditch.

Deputies said Owens was outside of the vehicle in his underwear and socks and held a knife to his wrists and throat, even though it was dull and wasn’t able to cause significant injuries.

He was taken into custody and Satterfield’s body was found in the car. Owens was taken back to Lorain County.

Rich said it could take months for the case to work its way through the court system.

“It’s an absolute, legitimate concern,” he said. “The state might have a difference of opinion whether it can be raised as a defense or not, but we’ll cross that bridge once we get there.”

Contact Scott Mahoney at 440-329-7146 or smahoney@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @SMahoneyCT.


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