Denied A Stay Of Execution, Georgia Executes First Woman In Seven Decades

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Sep 30, 2015 9:19 AM
Denied A Stay Of Execution, Georgia Executes First Woman In Seven Decades

Kelly Renee Gissendaner, the only woman on Georgia’s death row, was executed at 12:12am this morning after a last ditch effort to stay her execution was denied by the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles and the U.S. Supreme Court. The board is the only entity that could have either granted a stay, or commuted her sentence to life without parole. She is the first woman to be executed by the Peach State in 70 years. Gissendaner was convicted of murdering her husband, Douglas Gissendaner, by having her lover stab him to death; that man is serving a life sentence for the crime (via AP):

Kelly Renee Gissendaner was pronounced dead by injection of pentobarbital at 12:21 a.m. at the state prison in Jackson. She was convicted of murder in the February 1997 slaying of her husband after she conspired with her lover, who stabbed Douglas Gissendaner to death.

Kelly Gissendaner, 47, sobbed as she said she loved her children and apologized to Douglas Gissendaner's family, saying she hopes they can find some peace and happiness. She also addressed her lawyer, Susan Casey, who was among the witnesses.

"I just want to say God bless you all and I love you, Susan. You let my kids know I went out singing 'Amazing Grace,'" Gissendaner said.

Prison Warden Bruce Chatman left the execution chamber at 12:11 a.m. Records from previous executions indicate that the lethal drug is administered within about a minute of the warden leaving the room.

Gissendaner sang "Amazing Grace" and also appeared to sing another song before taking several deep breaths and then becoming still.

More than 100 people gathered in rainy conditions outside the prison to support Gissendaner. Among them was Rev. Della Bacote, who said she is a chaplain at Saint Thomas Hospital in Nashville and who spent several hours with Gissendaner on Tuesday afternoon, talking and praying.

"She was at peace with whatever was to come," Bacote said.

Gissendaner's three children visited with her Monday but weren't able to see her Tuesday because they were testifying before the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, Bacote said. The parole board is the only entity authorized to commute a death sentence in Georgia.

While visiting, it’s been reported that Pope Francis tried to appeal for clemency on the death sentence on Gissendaner’s behalf.