Kelly Gissendaner Executed In Georgia Despite Last Ditch Appeals By Pope Francis

Mother Of Three Becomes First Woman In 70 Years To Be Executed By State Of Georgia

A woman has been executed in the US state of Georgia despite a number of last-ditch appeals, including one by Pope Francis, to try to block her execution.

47-year-old Kelly Gissendaner, has become the first woman put to death in the southern US state in 70 years.

She was convicted over her involvement in the 1997 murder of her husband, but her lawyers argued she was a model inmate filled with remorse over her role in the killing.

Gissendaner as seen in 2004

Supreme Court Chief Justice Norman Fletcher argued that Gissendaner's death sentence was not proportionate to her role in the crime.

Her lover, Gregory Owen, who did the killing, is serving a life prison sentence and will become eligible for parole in 2022.

Fletcher also noted that Georgia hasn't executed a person who didn't actually carry out a killing since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

Gissendaner was previously scheduled for execution on 25 February, but that was delayed because of a threat of winter weather.

Her execution was then reset again for 2 March, but corrections officials postponed that execution "out of an abundance of caution" because the execution drug appeared "cloudy."

According to the Associated Press, Gissendaner sobbed in her final moments as she said she loved her children and apologised 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.

Kelly Renee Gissendaner with the theologian Jargen Moltmann in 2011

Pope Francis, who has called for the abolition of the death penalty, appealed to the parole board asking for a commutation of Gissendaner's sentence.

Despite this plea, various courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, denied multiple last-ditch efforts to stop her execution, and the parole board stood by its February decision to deny clemency.

The board didn't give a reason for the denial, but said it had carefully considered her request for reconsideration.


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