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Killer clown suspect claims she's too poor to pay for defense. She's faking, prosecutors say

Marc Freeman, Sun Sentinel on

Published in News & Features

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The woman charged in South Florida's killer clown case claims she has no car, no cash, no property and is too poor to pay for her defense. But prosecutors say she's faking -- and is cheating Florida taxpayers of thousands of dollars.

These allegations come after Sheila Warren -- despite her spouse hiring her lawyer for $150,000 -- suddenly claimed six months ago that she couldn't afford to pay for court transcripts and other defense costs.

Discovery of the alleged fraud prompted the judge overseeing the case on Friday to call off the Jan. 31 scheduled start of Warren's murder trial.

Palm Beach County prosecutors say they dug deep into the couple's finances and obtained bank records since her 2017 arrest and subsequent claims of having zero assets.

Investigators discovered Sheila and Michael Warren last year shifted $300,000 into his sole bank accounts, and she signed over to her spouse the title to their $581,700 Virginia lakefront estate home.

Also, the Warrens purportedly own a Tennessee home valued at $184,800, plus two cars each valued at $40,000, and other bank accounts are being explored.

 

But yet she said she's in the poor house.

"In fact, her actions are contemptuous and criminal," Assistant State Attorney Brian Fernandes wrote last week. "The Defendant and her husband have done nothing short of perpetrating a fraud onto the Court and the State of Florida."

It's unclear in court records precisely how much public money has been spent so far on Warren's defense costs.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the case, in which they say the woman then known as Sheila Keen wore a clown costume during the 1990 killing of Marlene Warren, and 12 years later married the dead woman's husband in Las Vegas.

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