Georgia denies clemency for its only female death row inmate

Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles denies last-minute clemency for Georgia's only female death row inmate despite call from Pope Francis to stop execution

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Kelly Gissendaner, the only woman on Georgia's death row, looks through the slot in her cell door as a guard brings her a cup of ice at Metro State Prison in Atlanta, July 6, 2004. [Archive]

Updated Sep 30, 2015

Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles once again denies clemency on Tuesday in the case of the state's only female death row inmate, Kelly Renee Gissendaner.

The state parole board reviewed a second request from Gissendaner's attorneys to reconsider their February decision, which had also denied clemency. 

The last-minute hearing had came just hours before she was to be executed by lethal injection, execution is scheduled for 7 pm on Tuesday.

This will be the first execution of a woman in Georgia, US in the past 70 years. It will also be the first time since 1976 for the state of Georgia to execute what they call a "non-trigger person," as Gissendaner is not the one who carried out the killing.

Gissendaner, 47, was convicted of taking part in the murder of her husband, Douglas Gissendaner with her lover Gregory Owen in 1997. Acting on Kelly Gissendaner’s orders, Owen had stabbed the victim to death. But unlike his partner in crime, he is serving life in prison, but he will become suitable for parole in 2022.

Her supporters, including her three children, have called on the government and court officials many times for her death sentence to be turned into a life sentence, arguing that she has been a model prisoner, who has talked other inmates out of committing suicide.

Demonstrators hold signs as they pray during a rally Wednesday outside the parole board office in Atlanta, GA.

Gissendaner has graduated from a prison theology program through Emory University in 2011.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, on Tuesday, Pope Francis also asked the state parole board not to execute Gissendaner, through a letter penned by his representative in America.

Gissendaner’s execution date has been delayed twice this year. The first delay was because of the threat of winter weather, the second one was, according to prison officials, due to the execution drug’s “cloudy” appearance. The prison officials later announced that the drug had been stored at too low of a temperature. They were worried the drug would not be effective or would have caused extreme pain if used.

TRTWorld and agencies