Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hasn't Death Row Inmate Gaile Owens Suffered Enough?

Politics | 03/16/2010 12:00 am

Hasn't Death Row Inmate Gaile Owens Suffered Enough?

By Andrew Belonsky

Gaile Owens

Yes, the 57-year-old maintains that she called off the "hit," and Henry explains that Owens "accepts her responsibility for setting the wheels in motion that led to her husband’s death and knows that her actions made her guilty of accessory before the fact to first-degree murder." Porterfield, meanwhile, has employed a different tactic: He’s claiming to be mentally retarded and therefore ineligible for execution.

One of the most important aspects of the Owens case revolves around her abuse — abuse of which the jury never heard. Though courts today regularly take "battered woman syndrome" into account, the condition hadn’t yet been codified – or, at least, recognized – back in the 1980s. And it’s that argument that should be of utmost importance to the Tennessee Supreme Court. People, regardless of gender, can only take so much abuse before they snap. Clearly Owens had reached a tipping point. Whether she deserves more or less blame than Porterfield remains a matter of debate, but this woman, now a grandmother, certainly deserves more than a death suitable for the nation’s most egregious criminals.

Rather than subjecting her children to the horrors she had endured, Owens ... pleaded guilty straightaway, hoping to receive life imprisonment.

The Court hasn’t indicated which way it will rule, but as Owens’s story gains more attention – and online support – we’re hoping the justices give her what she deserves: a commuted sentence that allows her more time with her family and the friends she’s made in prison.

If you want to learn more about Owens’s case, head over to the Friends of Gaile website, where you can find information on which authorities to contact to fight for a commutation of Owens’s death sentence.

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