Help Save the Life of Gaile Owens!


The Tennessee Supreme Court announced on April 19, that it has denied the commutation request, filed on Friday, Feb. 5, on behalf of Gaile Owens. Gaile’s lawyers have already filed a commutation request with the governor. Gaile would be the first woman executed by the state since Eve Martin was hanged in 1820. She would be the seventh person executed by the state since 2000.


Governor Phil Bredesen is now the only person who can decide to commute Gaile’s sentence of the death penalty to life in prison. It is important now more than ever to show your support for Gaile.

Please make your voice heard by calling or writing Governor Phil Bredesen. Email us at and let us know what you are doing to support Gaile.


* Gaile is the only inmate in Tennessee prison history to receive a death sentence after accepting a prosecutor’s offer to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence.
* Gaile was diagnosed with battered women’s syndrome, a serious mental disorder that courts have recognized as “a female who is the victim of consistent, severe domestic violence.”
* Gaile’s jurors never heard a word about the physical, emotional and sexual abuse she endured.
* Gaile never testified in her own defense because she wanted to protect her young sons from the details of the sexual and emotional abuse she suffered.
* Despite the abuse she suffered, Gaile is, and always has been, remorseful for causing the murder of her husband.
* Equal justice? A recent media review of nine comparable state cases over the past 25 years found that six have since received full probation or early parole, two others are serving life sentences but entitled to parole hearings, and only one, Gaile, is serving a death sentence.
* Gaile is without question an outstanding inmate at the Tennessee Prison for Women, where she works as a clerk and is loved by staff and peers alike.


Want to take action? You can do several things to help Gaile.

1. Sign the petition at, and encourage others to do the same.

2. Write letters and e-mails to Gov. Bredesen and his legal counsel, Steve Elkins. Ask them to commute Gaile’s sentence to life in prison.

E-mail: and

The Honorable Phil Bredesen (or Mr. Steve Elkins)
Governor’s Office
Tennessee State Capitol
Nashville, TN 37243-0001

3. Call Gov. Bredesen’s office at (615) 741-2001 and tell them you think the governor should commute Gaile’s sentence to life in prison.

4. Write letters to the editors at newspapers in major Tennessee cities.

The Tennessean (Nashville): Submit letters to and include your name, city and ZIP code. Letters should not exceed 200 words.

The City Paper (Nashville): Submit letters to and include your name, city and ZIP code.

The Commercial Appeal (Memphis): Submit letters at

The Knoxville News Sentinel: Submit letters to Letters must not exceed 300 words, and should include your name, address and phone number.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press: Submit letters to Keep letters to 200 words and include your name, address and telephone number.

5. Are you on Facebook? Twitter? Do you blog? Share your thoughts using these social media tools. It’s an easy way to tell Gaile’s story and drive people to action.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Supreme Court has set a Sept. 28 execution date for Gaile Owens, rejecting arguments that her death sentence should be commuted because she was a battered woman.

Owens was convicted in 1986 of hiring someone to kill her husband.

Defense attorneys asked the court to either commute her sentence or issue a recommendation to the governor to do so. They argued her sentence was disproportionate to similar cases and that she tried to plead guilty but wasn’t allowed to.

In its order Monday, the Supreme Court wrote that it cannot consider facts outside the record but noted the governor is not constrained by the same limitations.

A request for clemency has already been sent to Gov. Phil Bredesen.

If Tennessee executes Owens, it will be the first time the state has killed a woman in nearly 200 years.

Defense attorney Kelley Henry had no immediate comment.

Don’t Kill Domestic Abuse Survivor Gaile Owens

From Death Penalty Focus

Gaile Owens, a 54-year-old woman and domestic abuse survivor from Tennessee, is scheduled to be executed on September 28.

Owens is seeking to have her death sentence changed to a sentence of life in prison and only Governor Phil Bredesen has the power to grant the request.

The National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women (NCDBW) and the Tennessee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (TCADSV) have been working together to support Owens. Owens’ supporters say her death sentence should be commuted to life because:

* Owens may be the only prisoner in Tennessee to receive a death sentence after accepting a prosecutor’s offer of a plea agreement for life in prison. In 1985, after years of sexual abuse and severe humiliation by her husband, Owens hired a man to kill him. The prosecutor’s office said Owens could plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence. This offer was made with the approval of her husband’s family. Owens accepted the plea. However, when Owens’ codefendant – the man she hired to kill her husband – refused to take the plea, the prosecutors withdrew the offer.

* Owens’ death sentence is excessive. A recent review of nine cases from Tennessee involving women who have killed or hired someone to kill their partners, shows that six have received probation or early parole and that two received life sentences with eligibility for parole. Only Owens has received death

* Owens was sentenced to death by a jury which never heard critical information about the physical, emotional, and sexual abuse she endured throughout her life, including from her husband. Owens was subjected to physical and sexual violence from a young age. Her husband was but one of the perpetrators of violence against her. When her trial attorneys asked for funds to hire an expert witness with experience in abuse and trauma to evaluate Owens, they were denied.

* The prosecutor withheld exculpatory evidence from the defense. To this date, at least one juror has come forward saying that if she had the information about Owens’ experiences of abuse, she would not have voted in favor of execution. In other words, the proper presentation of this evidence could have resulted in an entirely different verdict and sentence by the jury.