Mid-South woman on death row compared to Mary Winkler

By Janice Broach - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A Shelby County woman convicted of hiring a man to kill her husband is being compared to Mary Winkler.  Supporters said that comparison is the reason she should no longer be on death row.

Gaile Owens has been on death row for a quarter of a century for hiring a man to murder her husband, Ron Owens.

Owens is scheduled to be executed in September, but her son, Stephen Owens, does not want that to happen.

"Please do not leave me with the responsibility," Stephen Owens said.  "Please do not allow a death sentence to be the legacy of my family."

There is now a swelling of support from other people who do not believe Gaile Owens should die.

These supporters said Owens is no different from Mary Winkler, the preacher's wife who shot and killer her husband.

Winkler served seven months in prison and was able to get full custody of her children.

Attorneys for Gaile Owens claimed their client was also a battered woman.  They said she was coerced into sexual acts by her husband that made her throw up and sex so rough that it hurt her.

Unlike Winkler's case, there is no proof of abuse because Owens never sought medical treatment and the allegations were not presented in her trial.

Several people have written letters to Governor Phil Bredesen asking for mercy for Owens.

SaraKay Smullens, a family therapist, pointed out in her letter that Winkler shot and killed her husband and was able to gain full custody of her children after only serving seven months in prison.

Owens is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on September 28.

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