Battered woman's life should be spared
Gov. Phil Bredesen holds the life of a battered woman in his hands. The state will execute Gaile K. Owens, 57, by lethal injection unless the governor commutes her sentence to life in prison.
Gaile is a victim of severe domestic violence who was arrested in 1985, and later convicted, for hiring a man to kill her abusive husband, Ronald Owens. After exhausting her appeals, her lawyer and two public defenders have filed a formal plea asking Gov. Bredesen to commute her sentence to life in prison. Though she was diagnosed with battered woman’s syndrome, Gaile’s jurors never heard about the physical, emotional and sexual abuse she endured from her husband.
Among nine comparable cases over the past 25 years: two are serving life sentences, six have received probation or early parole, while only Gaile is facing death. Unless Gov. Bredesen commutes Gaile’s sentence, she will be the first woman executed by the state since 1820.
Not only were there very few, if any, resources for a battered woman in the early 1980s, but a woman who has suffered severe and consistent abuse is not in a competent state of mind. Gov. Bredesen should commute Gaile Owens’ sentence to life in prison, and save the state from executing a battered woman.
Caitlin O’Leary, 37215