Unmoved by Pope, Georgia Executes 1st Woman in 70 Years

Appeals from Francis, inmate's kids fail to sway parole board
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 30, 2015 12:40 AM CDT
Updated Sep 30, 2015 6:37 AM CDT
Georgie Executes First Woman in 70 Years
Kelly Renee Gissendaner is shown.   (Bita Honarvar)

The only woman on Georgia's death row was executed early Wednesday, making her the first woman put to death by the state in seven decades. Kelly Renee Gissendaner was pronounced dead by injection of pentobarbital at 12:21am 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. The 47-year-old 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's three children visited with her Monday but weren't able to see her Tuesday because they were testifying before the state parole board. Two of her children had previously addressed the board and also put out a video earlier this month pleading for their mother's life and talking about their own difficult path to forgiveness; her oldest son had not previously addressed the board. Pope Francis' diplomatic representative in the US sent a letter to the parole board on behalf of the pontiff Tuesday asking for a commutation of Gissendaner's sentence "to one that would better express both justice and mercy." Various courts, including the US Supreme Court, denied multiple last-ditch efforts to stop her execution Tuesday, and the parole board stood by its decision to deny clemency. (More Georgia stories.)

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