Still no plea in Aptos murder

Amanda Owens leaves Superior Court Friday morning following an arraignment where she faces a murder charge for stabbing Tom Owens to death Aug. 24 in their Aptos home. — Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

SANTA CRUZ — The Aptos woman accused of stabbing her husband to death inside their home on Aug. 24 made her second court appearance Aug. 30, and delayed entering a plea while she hires an attorney.

It was the second time Amanda Owens has continued her arraignment hearing so she can retain counsel.

Owens will return to court on Sept. 24. She is out of jail after posting $1 million bail, jail records show.

Owens has been charged with murder and using a weapon during a felony. She faces as much as 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

During the short hearing, Owens asked Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge John Salazar to lift a protective order prohibiting her from contacting her 22-year-old son, who is severely disabled. She also has a 17-year-old daughter.

Owens and her husband Thomas Owens were caretakers for their son, who cannot speak and is confined to a wheelchair. She was hoping to continue caring for him.

But Salazar kept the order in place after Santa Cruz County Assistant District Attorney Jason Gill objected.

According to Gill, an argument over finances – which Thomas Owens tried to avoid – ended when Amanda Owens stabbed her husband in front of their son.

“We don’t think it’s appropriate for Ms. Owens to be in contact with her children, and that’s based on the evidence in the case,” Gill said.

Amanda Owens is a founding member and former board chair of Special Parents Information Network (SPIN), which supports parents of special-needs children.

Her husband was also involved in the organization, and among other things helped during a recent move to a new office, said Executive Director Cece Pinheiro.

“They are a great family,” Pinheiro said. 

She added that the couple showed none of the red flags that many in their situation do.

“Families of kids with disabilities have a higher divorce rate than other families,” she said.

That, she said, comes in part from the pressures of having a disabled child.

According to Pinheiro, families with disabled children must weather societal pressures to have “perfect” children and go through a “spiritual revelation.”

“You have to question everything that you believed in at one point, and you have to go through a process to come out the other side to then be in acceptance,” she said.

“In that moment of frustration and anger Amanda snapped and she did not have her faculties to make a right decision,” Pinheiro said. “And the stressors that added to that are unknown. To have that happen she had to be under some really severe pressure.”

Still, Pinheiro said she agreed with Salazar’s decision to keep the protective order in place.

“Of course, anybody that is in such crisis that they could stab somebody close to them needs to have some time to slow down and breathe and have a therapist to talk to,” she said. “In the near future I’m sure it will all be resolved and she will be able to see her son again, and that will be in the best interest of him because he does need to see his mom.”

The courtroom was crowded Friday morning for Owens’ appearance. Owens, garbed in street attire, appeared haggard and kept her eyes downward as she rushed from the courtroom and off the premises.

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