Florida woman appears in court after arrest in killing of neighbor Ajike Owens

Florida woman appears in court after arrest in killing of neighbor Ajike Owens
Witthaya Prasongsin/Getty Images
June 9th, 2023 | ABC News Radio

(NEW YORK) — A Florida woman appeared at her first court hearing after she was arrested in the shooting death of her neighbor, a mother of four, after an alleged dispute with the neighbor’s children.

Susan Lorincz, 58, appeared in court via video from the Marion County Jail where she is currently being housed, according to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO). The state attorney requested that Lorincz be held with no bond and said that the state would file a motion for pretrial detention.

Judge Lori Cotton said she will hold off on the bond hearing until the state files a motion for pretrial detention, which will be scheduled within five days. Cotton said Lorincz’s next court date will be on July 11.

“The fact that she has no job, no property kind of limits her ties to this community,” the state attorney said of Lorincz. “So we ask that, at least for the time being, she remain on a no-bond status.”

Lorincz, who is white, allegedly shot and killed Ajike Owens, who is Black, on June 2 in Ocala, Florida, on the doorstep of Lorincz’s home after Owens went to the suspect’s residence to question her about a dispute with Owens’ children, according to police documents.

Authorities say the suspect told police that she shot Owens, 35, in self-defense but through their investigation, the sheriff’s office said it was determined Lorincz’s actions were not justified under Florida law.

At a press conference Wednesday, Ben Crump, the attorney representing Owens’ family, claimed Susan Lorincz often directed racial slurs at Black children around the neighborhood and antagonized them to not play on the field near her home.

Lorincz’s attorney, the sheriff’s office and the state attorney’s office did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment on these claims.

Lorincz mostly gave one-word answers during the hearing Thursday. One exception was when Cotton asked Lorincz if she planned to find a job. Lorincz said she has been out of work for two weeks and had been employed in the medical field helping people set up doctor’s appointments.

“We set up appointments for people who have Medicare, Medicaid insurance,” Lorincz said to the judge.

“Are you intending on getting another job?” Cotton asked.

“Eventually,” Lorincz replied.

Lorincz was arrested this week and charged with first-degree manslaughter, punishable by up to 30 years in prison, if convicted, the sheriff’s office said in a statement. She was also charged with culpable negligence, battery and two counts of assault.

In a statement, MCSO explained they conducted interviews with witnesses, Owens’ children and Lorincz.

“Ms. Lorincz’s fate is now in the hands of the judicial system, which I trust will deliver justice in due course,” Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods said in a statement. “As I go to bed tonight, I will be saying a prayer for Ms. Owens’ children and the rest of her family. I’d ask all of you to do the same.”

Woods said there was an ongoing feud between Lorincz and Owens. The day of the shooting, the children were playing in a field on the property in which the suspect’s home is located. At that point, the suspect allegedly engaged in an argument with the children, the sheriff’s department said.

Lorincz allegedly threw a pair of skates at Owens’ 9-year-old son and hit the child in the toe, according to MCSO. Afterwards, the minor and his 12-year-old brother went to Lorincz’s home to speak to her. Lorincz swung an umbrella at them, according to a statement from the sheriff’s office.

The children notified Owens, resulting in Owens going to the suspect’s home and demanding that she come out. That’s when Lorincz shot Owens through her closed door, striking her in the upper chest, according to MCSO. Owen’s 9-year-old son was beside her, police said.

“Our 12-year-old blames himself for the death of his mother because he couldn’t save her,” Pamela Dias, Owens’ mother, said at a press conference on Wednesday. “He couldn’t give her CPR. His words, ‘Grandma, grandma, I couldn’t save her! I tried to give her CPR! I tried to give her CPR!'”

According to police records, when officers arrived on the scene, they found Owens under a nearby tree with a gunshot wound. She had a faint pulse as the officers applied medical aid. Owens was transported to a local hospital where she was pronounced deceased later that evening.

In a press conference on Monday, Woods said that Florida Stand Your Ground laws made it harder to execute an immediate arrest. The sheriff’s major crimes unit was finally able to arrest Lorincz on Tuesday after gathering enough evidence, the sheriff’s department said.

“I pray that God gives me the strength, the wisdom and the ability to raise these children as our daughter would have us to do,” Dias said. “[They] witnessed their mother murdered in cold blood.”

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