I have found this article...http://www.tennessean.com/article/20100715/NEWS02/7150324/-1/WORKAROUND01
Gaile Owens could be freed next year
Bredesen: Abused wife didn't deserve death sentence
By Clay Carey • THE TENNESSEAN • July 15, 2010
Gaile Owens was 77 days away from a lethal injection when she woke up on death row Wednesday morning. Today, she is looking at the possibility of walking out of prison — a free woman — as early as next year.
Gov. Phil Bredesen changed Owens' death sentence to life in prison on Wednesday, granting a rare reprieve to one of only two women on Tennessee's death row. Bredesen said Owens could be eligible for parole by spring 2012, though her attorneys said credit for good behavior during her 25 years in prison could push her date with the parole board to 2011.
"As I stand here today, the healing power of God's forgiveness is evident. God is at work here," said Owens' son, Stephen, after the governor's announcement. He was 12 when his mother hired another man to kill his father, Ron. He and his 8-year-old brother discovered Ron Owens' bloody body inside their West Tennessee home.
"I look forward to the day when my mother will be home with my family," Stephen Owens said.
The 57-year-old Gaile Owens was to be executed Sept. 28.
The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear her appeal, and the state Supreme Court in April ruled that it couldn't overturn her death sentence. After that, the governor was the only one with the power to save her.
Owens' supporters pointed to several holes in the case that they say made her life worth sparing. Her attorneys said Owens suffered from battered woman syndrome after years of sexual and physical abuse at the hands of her husband.
The abuse was never brought up during her trial because Owens would not discuss it in front of her children.
They also pointed to the fact that she agreed to plead guilty in exchange for life in prison, only to see the offer pulled off the table before her trial began.
The governor said his decision was based on the abuse and the fact that Owens had agreed to the plea bargain.
"Nearly all the similar cases we looked at resulted in life-in-prison sentences," Bredesen said.
Nashville attorney George Barrett, who has been representing Owens in her bid for clemency, said Bredesen's mercy was "a just and right solution" for a woman who admitted her guilt.
"Gaile's case was an extreme instance of injustice. The system failed her at every turn, except here," Barrett said.
Owens learned of her reprieve Wednesday from Kelley Henry, an assistant federal public defender who has represented her during her appeals.
"Gaile is absolutely overwhelmed," Henry said. "She couldn't speak at first."
Prison officials said Owens will be reclassified within the next two days and moved off death row into another cell.
Henry said she believed Owens would have "an excellent chance of making parole the first time she goes up."
Plea deal falls through
Ron Owens was beaten to death inside his Shelby County home on Feb. 17, 1985. Gaile Owens and Sidney Porterfield, the man she hired to commit the murder, were tried together the next year and both were sentenced to death.
Porterfield is still appealing his sentence.
Before her trial began, Owens tried to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence. But Porterfield would not enter a plea. To get convictions, court records show, prosecutors believed they had to try Owens and Porterfield together. So when Porterfield insisted on a trial, prosecutors decided to pull Owens' plea deal off the table.
"The fact that the state offered life indicated to us that in their eyes it wasn't among the worst (murders). Her inability to accept the plea was through no fault of hers. She attempted to accept responsibility but was prevented from doing so," said Jerry Black, president of the Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and a law professor at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. "This was indeed a case where death wasn't deserved," Black said.
When Fulya Sobczak, one of the 12 jurors who sentenced Owens to death, learned about the abuse Owens endured, she decided the death penalty was a mistake.
Six months ago, she wrote a letter to Bredesen asking him to have mercy on Owens.
"I'm so relieved, and I'm so thankful," Sobczak said. "I feel like something has been lifted off my shoulders."
Owens' death sentence is the second Bredesen has commuted. In 2007, he changed convicted killer Michael Joe Boyd's sentence from death to life in prison. He cited "grossly inadequate legal representation" during a post-conviction hearing.
Since Bredesen took office in 2003, five men have been executed.
Current Shelby County prosecutor Bill Gibbons said in a statement that he defers to the governor's power under the state constitution to commute sentences. "I respect the fact that it is his decision based upon his review of the circumstances," he said.
Appeal had backing
Several high-profile organizations and Tennesseans aided Owens' campaign for mercy. The well-connected public relations firm McNeely Pigott & Fox worked on her case. The National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women and the Nashville YWCA were among the agencies that wrote to Bredesen on Owens' behalf. More than 11,000 people signed an online petition in support of a lighter sentence for Owens.
She also garnered support from singer/songwriter Marshall Chapman and John Seigenthaler Sr., former Tennessean newspaper publisher and chairman emeritus of the newspaper.
"As heinous as the crime was, the record of how Tennessee has dealt with similar cases over the last century makes it clear that her death would have been a terrible miscarriage of justice," Seigenthaler said.
"I was on the golf course when I found out" about the commuted sentence,
Seigenthaler said. "It was like hitting a hole in one."
(Tennessean staff writers Chas Sisk and Brian Haas and The Associated Press contributed to this report.)