Hit man in Gail Owens case wants new trial

(WMC-TV) - Security was extra Tuesday tight as officers took up positions at a hearing for Sidney Porterfield.

Nearly 26 years ago, Porterfield was convicted of beating Ron Owens to death in a plot with Owens wife to murder her husband inside their Bartlett home.

In an amazing series of events back in September, Gaile Owens was released from death row after former Governor Phil Bredesen commuted her sentence.

The move followed claims that Owens had been abused by her husband.

"At a point of desperation I drove through Memphis in search of someone who would kill my husband," Owens said.

Sidney Porterfield was convicted of being the hit man Gaile Owens paid to beat her husband Ron to death, and now, just weeks after Owens walked to freedom, Porterfield showed up in a Memphis courtroom to ask for new trial.

In making a case for his freedom, Porterfield's attorneys argued their client received inadequate counsel in his original murder case.

But they may be facing an uphill battle. Porterfield's new attorneys claim he is mentally incompetent, and if his original attorney had presented that information to the court, Porterfield would have gotten life instead of the death penalty.

Porterfield tried the inadequate counsel defense during an earlier court case and was denied. Whether that defense will work this time will depend on what the judge decides.

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