Tennessee's Supreme Court Tuesday granted an extension of time to attorneys for convicted killer Gaile Owens, whom the state intends to put to death for her part in the 1985 murder-for-hire plot that left her husband dead. Owens' team now has until Feb. 5 to respond to Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper's motion to set an execution date.
Owens' lawyers, Kelley Henry and Gretchen Swift of the Federal Public Defender's office, asked the Supreme Court Monday to grant them more time to present their case that the death sentence handed down in 1986 against Owens should be commuted to life in prison. The attorneys cited scheduling conflicts and medical issues in seeking an extension. Prosecutors had wanted to extend the deadline only until Jan. 4.
Monday's motion by Swift and Henry revealed that they intend to cite the light sentence meted out to Mary Winkler, another Tennessee woman who killed a husband she accused of domestic abuse, as one reason Owens ought to be spared death by lethal injection.
If Owens is ultimately executed, she will become the first woman put to death by Tennessee since 1820.