The US state of Georgia executed a woman prisoner on death row on Wednesday. It is the first time in 70 years the state has carried out a death sentence on a woman.
A prison spokeswoman announced that Kelly Gissendaner, aged 47, died by injection of pentobarbital at 12:21 am EDT on Wednesday at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification prison in Jackson.
It is reported that she sobbed before the execution, saying she loved her children and apologised to the family of her husband Douglas Gissendaner, who she was convicted of conspiring to murder.
Pope Francis, who is known as an outspoken opponent of the death penalty, had urged officials to commute her death sentence during his visit to the US on Sunday.
However, the US Supreme Court on Tuesday denied last-minute requests for a stay of execution while the state's Board of Pardons and Paroles met on Tuesday to decide whether its refusal earlier this year to commute Gissendaner's sentence to life in prison should stand.
Gissendaner was convicted of conspiring with her lover, Gregory Owen, who ambushed her husband, forced him to drive to a remote area and stabbed him repeatedly in February 1997.
Owen and Gissendaner then met up and set fire to the dead man’s car.
Owen pleaded guilty and testified against Gissendaner, who did not take part in the stabbing.
He is now serving a life sentence and becomes eligible for parole in 2022.
An Episcopal priest who ran Gissendaner through a prison theology program said Gissendaner was scared but had not abandoned her belief in God.
A prison spokeswoman also reported that Gissendaner asked for a final prayer before she died.
Kelly Gissendaner was the first woman to be executed in Georgia since Lena Baker, a black maid who was convicted of killing her white employer in a one day trial, was executed in 1945.