Calling the case “complex and emotional,” the governor cited the “extraordinary” sentence rendered in the case and the fact that Owens had accepted a conditional plea agreement prior to her trial.
“Nearly all the similar cases have resulted in life-in-prison sentences,” Bredesen said, pointing to the evidence of abuse by Owens’ husband, Ron.
Bredesen announced that Owens will further receive 1,000 days of sentence credit — “considerably less” than she would have earned had her original sentence been life imprisonment — and will be eligible for parole in late spring 2012.
Owens’ case has generated a great deal of attention because of the unusual circumstances of her plea deal: She and Sidney Porterfield, the man she hired to kill her husband, were both offered life sentences in exchange for guilty pleas. Owens agreed. Porterfield reneged.
Later, as claims of spousal abuse emerged, further questions were raised about the fairness of Owens’ capital sentence, especially in the wake of the Mary Winkler trial — in which Winkler claimed a long history of abuse prior to killing her husband. Winkler was sentenced to 67 days in a mental health facility.
I’ve written about this case a couple of times, but even though our coverage has been far from comprehensive even though this is something that I’ve been watching pretty closely over the past few months.
I’m glad Governor Bredesen did the right thing, and totally agree with what GoldnI says here:
No one questions Gaile Owens’ guilt, she admitted as much. But it’s clear that the prosecutors in this case did not act in good faith, and the comparison between her treatment and that of Mary Winkler was simply too stark to ignore.