Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Governor Commutes Gaile Owens' Death Penalty Sentence

Governor Commutes Gaile Owens' Death Penalty Sentence

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Governor Phil Bredesen has commuted Gaile Owens' death penalty sentence. Owens was convicted in 1986 of hiring someone to kill her husband.

Bredesen made the announcement Wednesday morning at a 10:30 a.m. news conference on the first floor of the State Capitol in the Old Supreme Court Chambers. The news conference was carried live on NewsChannel 5 PLUS and NewsChannel5.com.

Defense attorneys had asked the court to either commute her sentence or issue a recommendation to the governor to do so. They argued her sentence was disproportionate to similar cases and that she tried to plead guilty but was not allowed to.

Stephen Owens, Gaile's son, spoke to the media for the first time about the case in April 2010.

"My statement to the public is a plea to the Governor to spare my mother's life," said Stephen.

Stephen was 12 years old when Gaile hired a stranger to kill her husband.

"Last year I saw her for the first time in 20 years. I looked her in the eyes, and told her I forgive her," said Stephen.

Gaile had expressed remorse for soliciting the murder of Ronald Owens, but the crime itself was not in question. What is in question is whether or not the entire story came out in court.

Bredesen said he decided to commute her sentence to life in prison because she had a plea deal with prosecutors but then was put on trial when her co-defendant refused to accept the bargain.

Gaile Owens' legal team planned a news conference for 2 p.m. Wednesday to address Bredesen's announcement. Stephen Owens was expected to attend.

Stay with the NewsChannel 5 Network for more information as it becomes available.

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