Despite multiple appeals filed with the state and federal high courts – and a written entreaty on behalf of Pope Francis – Gissendaner was put to death by lethal injection at 12:21 a.m. Wednesday. Gissendaner, 47, was convicted of murder in the February 1997 slaying of her husband.
The man who carried out the kidnapping and murder, Kelly Gissendaner’s then-boyfriend, Gregory Owen, received a life sentence.
Gissendaner’s legal team filed three appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court and all were denied.
Pardons and Paroles spokesman Steve Hayes said the board had several options: allow its February decision stand, issue a stay of up to 90 days to further consider the case, or grant clemency and commute the sentence to life with or without the possibility of parole.
State officials and a few members of Mr. Gissendaner’s family said that her death sentence was appropriate.
“The outcome illustrates one of the fundamental flaws with the death penalty – it’s applied arbitrarily”, said Steven Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty global, which is among a number of groups calling for her sentence to be commuted to life in prison.
Gissendaner has had two previous execution dates.
Gissendaner’s last meal was served to her at 4:00 Tuesday afternoon.
Yes, it’s true that Gissendaner was afforded rights that her victim was not.
A Georgia woman convicted of conspiring to kill her husband was executed early Wednesday despite appeals from the Vatican and her legal team.
Supporters, who had been calling for clemency, also held a vigil outside the state prison in Jackson. She was one of 54 women on death row in the United States.
The children, after years of anger, had forgiven their mother and said she turned her life around. A petition signed by 90,000 people noted that during her incarceration Gissendaner “has been a pastoral presence to many, teaching, preaching, and living a life of objective”. The eleventh-hour decision to proceed with the execution was made after Gissendaner’s lawyers argued that a death sentence was too harsh of a sentence for someone who was not the actual “trigger-person”, or person who carried out the murder.
However, Rev.David Gushee, distinguished university professor of Christian Ethics and director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University, wrote in an article for Religion News Service that the “largely Baptist power structure of Georgia state government” does not agree with Catholicism on the death penalty.
The constitutionality of lethal injection drugs has made headlines in recent years and European manufacturers – such as Denmark-based Lundbeck, which manufactures pentobarbital – banned USA prisons from using their drugs in executions in 2013.
“Yes, Greg Owen took a knife and stabbed Doug Gissendaner to death, but Kelly Gissendaner is more responsible”, lead prosecutor Phil Wiley told a Gwinnett County court.
Not long after the Supreme Court denied Gissendaner’s earlier appeal, her attorneys asked the justices to review the 11th Circuit’s opinion.