published Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Oldest inmate on TN death row dies

The Tennessee Department of Correction says the oldest inmate on death row has died of natural causes.

The Tennessean reports 71-year-old Sidney Porterfield died Wednesday afternoon at the Lois DeBerry Special Needs Facility, which houses inmates with serious illnesses. Porterfield was the hit man in the killing of Ron Owens in 1984 in Memphis.

Owens' wife, Gaile Owens, admitted that she spent months driving around crime-ridden sections of Memphis, looking for someone willing to harm her husband, who she claimed was abusive.

She found Porterfield, who ambushed Ron Owens and beat him to death with a tire iron.

Porterfield and Gaile Owens were both convicted and sentenced to death, but former Gov. Phil Bredesen commuted Owens' sentence to life in 2010, and she was paroled a year later.

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