Gaile Owens, once on death row for her role in the murder of her husband, has been granted parole.
Owens received her first vote for parole from the board three weeks ago. She needed to get three more “yes” votes from the other six board members. The fourth vote for parole was finalize this morning.
Owens was convicted in Shelby County in 1986 of accessory to the first-degree murder of her husband, Ron Owens, and was later scheduled for execution exactly one year ago on September 28. She would have been the first woman executed by the state in more than a century.
In July 2010, then-Gov. Phil Bredesen commuted Owens’ sentence to life in prison, three months after the Supreme Court of Tennessee declined to vacate her death sentence. A multi-part series in the Nashville Scene in April 2010 examined the problems with the case and details of spousal abuse that a jury never heard.
Stephen Owens, Gaile Owens' son, issue the following statement:
"This is a beautiful day for our family. I am grateful to the parole board for granting parole to my mother, Gaile Owens, after 26 years in prison. One year ago today was the date that Mom was to be executed had Gov. Phil Bredesen not commuted her sentence. I will always be grateful to Gov. Bredesen, to my mother's legal team, and to the thousands of friends and strangers who have rallied behind my mom and our family."
The next step for Owens is for a release plan to be approved before she will be set free, likely within the next three weeks. After release, she will be required to regularly report to a probation and parole officer.
The Tennessean first reported the story.