Gov. Phil Bredesen commuted the death sentence of Gaile Owens today. Owens has been on death row at the Tennessee Prison for Women since 1986, when she was convicted of arranging the murder of her husband, Ron Owens, the associate director of nursing at a Memphis hospital. Owens claimed her husband was sexually abusive, and it was later confirmed that he was, in fact, having an affair. None of this came out at trial, however, and after a short deliberation, Owens was sentenced to death.
Due to inadequate representation and a law that limits federal courts' ability to consider all the evidence in the case, the whole story was never told. (For an in-depth look at her life, the crime and subsequent courtroom bungling, read this two-part series: Part I and Part II)
At a press conference, Bredesen commented on the inconsistency in sentencing for similar crimes. "Nearly all the similar cases have resulted in life-in-prison sentences," he said.