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July 15 2010 | UNITED STATES


Tennessee: governor Bredesen commutes woman's death sentence. She could be eligible for parole in 2012

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WASHINGTON, 15 LUG - Il governatore del Tennessee, Phil Bredesen, democratico, e' intervenuto oggi sul caso di una donna di 57 anni condannata a morte, trasformandone la condanna in ergastolo.

La donna, Gaile Owens, condannata per aver ucciso il marito, avrebbe dovuto essere giustiziata il prossimo 28 settembre.

Molti gruppi e associazioni contrari alla pena di morte avevano chiesto l'intervento del governatore. La donna a suo tempo si era riconosciuta colpevole, e questa circostanza aveva portato in casi analoghi al suo a sentenze meno severe. 

Associated Press

Tennessee governor commutes woman's death sentence.

Gaile Owens, who hired a hit man to kill her husband, gets life sentence, could be eligible for parole in 2012


Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen has commuted the death sentence of a woman convicted of hiring a man to kill her husband.

The governor's move Wednesday changes Gaile Owens' sentence to life in prison. She could be eligible for parole in 2012.

The 57-year-old was scheduled to be executed in September. It has been nearly 200 years since Tennessee executed a woman. One other woman is on death row, but she is still appealing.

Owens was convicted in 1986 of hiring a man to kill her husband, Ron. He was beaten to death with a tire iron at the suburban Memphis home where they lived with their two sons.

Bredesen said he commuted the sentence because she once had a plea deal to avoid the death penalty that fell through when her co-defendant refused to plead guilty.



Tennessee governor spares woman from death penalty.  Democratic governor commutes sentence to life in prison. Woman convicted of hiring another man to kill husband.  Death penalty opponents had lobbied to spare her life

NASHVILLE, Tenn., July 14 (Reuters) - Tennessee's governor stepped in on Wednesday to prevent the rare execution of a female U.S. convict, commuting to life imprisonment the death sentence of a woman convicted of hiring another man to kill her husband.

Phil Bredesen, the Democratic governor of the southern U.S.

state, said he spared Gaile Owens, 57, from the death penalty after a review showed she had admitted her guilt and that other people who committed similar crimes generally drew lesser sentences.

Owens had been scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on Sept. 28. The commutation will make her eligible for parole as soon as late next year.

Death penalty opponents and others had urged the governor to spare her life.

"This appears to me an extraordinary death penalty case in which the defendant admitted her involvement in the murder of her husband and attempted to accept the district attorney's conditional offer of life imprisonment," Bredesen said in his order commuting the sentence.

"This acceptance was ineffective only because of her co-defendant's refusal to accept such an agreement," he said.

Bredesen said that while Owens' claims that she had been physically abused by her husband were "inconclusive," she may have been suffering from "battered woman syndrome," which was another factor in his decision.

The governor said most cases similar to this one ended with a sentence of life in prison rather than death.

Owens was convicted in 1986. Evidence showed she had solicited several men in poor Memphis neighborhoods with offers of up to $10,000 to kill her husband Ron Owens.

Sidney Porterfield, the man Owens hired, used a tire iron to beat her husband in the couple's suburban Memphis home while Owens and their two sons were away.

The United States has executed 1,218 people since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, six of them in Tennessee.

Eleven women have been executed nationwide since capital punishment was resumed, with the last execution of a woman carried out in Texas in 2005, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

There are 90 men and one woman still on death row in Tennessee.

Her scheduled execution had prompted pleas to the governor to spare her life from several high-profile Tennesseans, including a former newspaper publisher, a prominent Nashville public relations firm, advocates against spousal abuse and opponents of the death penalty.


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