After denying a request to have her death sentence commuted to life in prison, the Tennessee Supreme Court on Monday set an execution date for Gaile K. Owens.
Unless Gov. Phil Bredesen intercedes on her behalf, Owens will be executed at 10 p.m. Sept. 28 at Riverbend Maximum Security prison.
“We are disappointed in the Supreme Court’s ruling,” George Barrett, Owens’ commutation attorney, said. “The life of Gaile Owens still hangs in the balance. We now look to Gov. Bredesen in hopes that he will commute her sentence to life in prison so we can avoid another first for Tennessee — the execution of a battered woman.”
Owens’ legal team and supporters will hold a news conference at 10 a.m. Tuesday, April 20, at the law offices of Barrett, Johnston & Parsley to discuss the Supreme Court’s order regarding Owens’ commutation request.
In its request to have an execution date set, the state alleged that Owens had completed the standard three-tier appeals process. But Owens’ legal team responded to the request by asking the court to vacate her death sentence and commute it to life in prison.
“After carefully considering Ms. Owens’ request that we modify her sentence to life, we respectfully decline to do so because this court does not have the authority, under Tenn. S. Ct. R. 12.4(A) or any state statute or court precedent, to grant this relief at this stage of the proceeding,” the ruling stated.
Owens has been on death row since she was convicted in Shelby County of accessory before the fact in the 1985 murder of her husband, Ronald Owens. She entered prison in February 1986. Sidney Porterfield, the man who was convicted of killing her husband, was also sentenced to death.