Uneven Justice: One Husband Killer Freed, The Other Faces Execution


Why was there a huge difference in the outcome of two cases in which Tennessee women MaryWinkler and Gaile Owens killed their abusive husbands 20 years apart, asks John Seigenthaler in The Tennessean. The headline on one case said, “Woman who killed preacher husband gets custody of their three children.” The other said, “Woman on death row loses her last appeal.” Psychologist Lynne Zager of Memphis said both suffered from battered woman’s syndrome – a condition courts have recognized as “a female who is the victim of consistent, severe domestic violence.”

Winkler, 36, served 67 days in a mental health facility after conviction and is now free. Owens, 57, is due to be executed. Winkler testified about the abuse she suffered. Owens did not take the witness stand in her own defense, so her jury did not hear her battered woman defense. Seigenthaler reports on both cases in detail to shed light on why they turned out so differently.

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