Florida State Attorney Will Not Pursue Murder Charge in Death of a Black Mother Shot by Her Neighbor

Left: mugshot of Susan Lorincz, Right: Ajike Owens smiling in selfie
Left: Marion County Sheriff's Office, Right: Facebook/Ajike Shantrell Owens

“As deplorable as the defendant’s actions were in this case, there is insufficient evidence to prove this specific and required element of second-degree murder,” State Attorney William Gladson said.

A Florida state attorney announced that he will not pursue a murder charge against the white woman accused of fatally shooting her Black neighbor through a door.

State Attorney William Gladson announced Monday that he will be pursuing manslaughter with a firearm and assault against Susan Lorincz in the fatal shooting of Ajike “AJ” Owens on June 2. 

Owens’ children were playing in the field near her and Lorincz’s duplex when authorities say Lorincz got upset with the children, began yelling at them and later threw a skate at one of them.

Lorincz told investigators she had a headache the day of the shooting, the Associated Press reported. Before the fatal incident, Lorincz was overheard yelling at and arguing with Owens’ children, who were playing in a field close to Lorincz’s residence, according to the sheriff’s department. 

The children went home to tell their mom, Owens, about what happened and she went to confront Lorincz with her 10-year-old son, according to the sheriff's department. Lorincz told investigators that Owens threatened to kill her as she banged on the door, the AP reported. Investigators said Lorincz told them she feared Owens would break her door down, according to the outlet. Lorincz fired a shot through the door which struck and killed Owens, according to authorities.

The state attorney said he will not be pursuing a second-degree murder charge in the case due to insufficient evidence.

“As deplorable as the defendant’s actions were in this case, there is insufficient evidence to prove this specific and required element of second-degree murder,” said Gladson. “Given the facts in this case, aiming a firearm at the door, and pulling the trigger is legally insufficient to prove depraved mind.”

Anthony Thomas, the Owens family attorney, requested the original manslaughter charge be upgraded to second-degree murder after Lorincz’s bond hearing on June 9, according to CBS News. He still believes a murder charge should be pursued and he says he will continue fighting for justice for Owens, the news site said.

"All the evidence unequivocally supports the elevation of this charge to second-degree murder," Thomas said, CBS News reported. "We firmly believe that justice demands nothing less. The failure of the prosecutor to charge Susan with what truly reflected her wanton, reckless behavior undermines our ability to even get real accountability. Nevertheless, our resolve remains unwavering, and we will continue to fight." 

Thomas, along with Owens' family and many in the community are pushing for the charge to be upgraded, but Gladson declined to do so.

“I am aware of the desire of the family, and some community members, that the defendant be charged with second degree murder," Gladson said. “Understandably, emotions run high, particularly with senseless, violent crimes. However, I cannot allow any decision to be influenced by public sentiment, angry phone calls or further threats of violence, as I have received in this case.”

If convicted on the manslaughter charge, which is a first-degree felony, Lorincz could face up to 30 years in prison, according to Gladson. She currently is being held in the Marion County County Jail and she will next appear in court for her arraignment on July 11, jail and court records show. 

Amanda Sizemore, Lorincz's attorney from the Marion County Public Defender's office, told Inside Edition Digital she had no comment at this time.

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