Sentence Commuted for Gaile Owens

Jul 23, 2010

Granting a rare reprieve, Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen commuted Gaile Owens’ death sentence to life in prison earlier this month. One of only two women on Tennessee’s death row, Owens was set to be executed on September 28.

Owens was convicted of murder in 1986 for allegedly hiring a man to kill her husband. But the jury never heard critical information about the years of sexual and physical abuse and humiliation she suffered from her husband. Owens later said she didn’t testify about the abuse because she wanted to protect her children.

The National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women and the Tennessee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence worked with other domestic violence prevention organizations and advocates to support a life sentence, rather than a death sentence, for Owens. More than 11,000 people signed an online petition in support of a lighter sentence, The Tennessean reports.

Owens has served 25 years in prison. She could be paroled as early as next year.

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