According to Wesh On Monday, State Attorney William Gladson announced the formal filing of charges against Susan Lorincz in the death of Ajike “AJ” Owens.
Lorincz, 58, is accused of shooting Owens through a door in Ocala, killing her in front of her child.
Owens’ family, their attorneys and some Ocala community members had called on officials to upgrade the charge of manslaughter to second-degree murder, but Gladson stated he would be keeping the charge as one count of manslaughter with a firearm and one count of assault.
“In order to prove the crime of second-degree murder, the State must prove beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt, the existence of a depraved mind toward the victim at the time of the killing. Depraved mind requires evidence of hatred, spite, ill will or evil intent toward the victim at the time of the killing. 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,” Gladson said. “I am aware of the desire of the family, and some community members, that the defendant be charged with second-degree murder. My obligation as State Attorney is to follow the law in each case that I prosecute.”
Manslaughter with a firearm is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
Investigators say Lorincz shot and killed Owens through a door in early June. One of Owens’ four children was there when it happened.
The mother of four tried confronting the neighbor for allegedly throwing a skate at her child.
Lorincz was arrested on original charges of manslaughter with a firearm, culpable negligence, battery and two counts of assault.
“As is always true in criminal cases, failure to prove beyond a reasonable doubt even one element of a crime will result in a not guilty verdict,” Gladson said. “Given the facts in this case, aiming a firearm at the door, and pulling the trigger is legally insufficient to prove depraved mind.”
In a video message, one of Owens’ family attorneys, Anthony Thomas, said they are disappointed.
“Certainly, the family would’ve wanted something a little more harsh in the form of a murder two charge,” Thomas said. “All of the evidence pointed to a murder two. At this time, the family will stay vigilant.”
Gladson said after Lorincz was arrested, two of Owens’ children gave sworn testimonies.
“Sworn testimony provided by the victim’s son after the arrest indicated that the skate thrown by the defendant did not strike the child, a necessary element of the charge of battery,” Gladson said. “Sworn testimony was also provided by another child, as it relates to one of the accounts of assault, that he was not in fear which is a required element of assault.”
Gladson said the legal requirements to establish the crimes of battery and assault couldn’t be met which is why the charges were not filed.
“The crime of misdemeanor culpable negligence was not filed because there is no evidence to establish that the defendant knew the child was with his mother when she shot the victim in this case,” Gladson said.
Some members of the NAACP of Marion County and other community members gathered outside of Marion County Judicial Center Monday evening to hold a rally. The group came together to show their solidarity with Owens’ family.
The attorneys for Owens’ family will hold a news conference on Tuesday.