Sun, Oct 09, 2011 - Page 7 News List

Tennessee woman released on parole after spending 25 years on death row

Reuters, NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE

A Tennessee woman who sat on death row for a quarter-century for the contract killing of her husband was released from custody on Friday.

Gaile Owens, 58, was greeted by a small group of friends and family when she was released from the Tennessee Prison for Women.

She was granted parole on Sept. 28 by the Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole — a year to the day after she had been scheduled to be executed. Owens had been convicted in 1986 of arranging to have her husband killed and later said her husband abused her.

During her parole hearing, -Owens testified about sexual assaults and physical abuse she suffered from her husband that she said led her in 1984 to contract a man to kill him. She said that during her trial she had not talked about abuse because she felt it would harm her children.

Parole became a possibility after then-Tennessee governor Phil Bredesen commuted her sentence last year.

Bredesen said at the time that he spared Owens after a review showed she had admitted her guilt and that other people who committed similar crimes generally drew lesser sentences. Bredesen also said that she had accepted a conditional plea agreement for life imprisonment prior to her trial.

Bredesen said she may have been suffering from “battered woman syndrome.”

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