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 12:21 a.m. 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.
Prison Warden Bruce Chatman left the execution chamber at 12:11 a.m. Records from previous executions indicate that the lethal drug is administered within about a minute of the warden leaving the room.
More than 100 people gathered in rainy conditions outside the prison to support Gissendaner. Among them was Rev. Della Bacote, who said she is a chaplain at Saint Thomas Hospital in Nashville and who spent several hours with Gissendaner on Tuesday afternoon, talking and praying.
“She was at peace with whatever was to come,” Bacote said.
Various courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, denied multiple last-ditch efforts to stop her execution Tuesday, 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.
Gissendaner was previously scheduled for execution Feb. 25, but that was delayed because of a threat of winter weather. Her execution was reset for March 2, but corrections officials postponed that execution “out of an abundance of caution” because the execution drug appeared “cloudy.”
Douglas Gissendaner’s family said in a statement Monday that he is the victim and that Kelly Gissendaner received an appropriate sentence.
“As the murderer, she’s been given more rights and opportunity over the last 18 years than she ever afforded to Doug who, again, is the victim here,” the statement says. “She had no mercy, gave him no rights, no choices, nor the opportunity to live his life.”
Her lover, Gregory Owen, who did the killing, is serving a life prison sentence and will become eligible for parole in 2022. He also noted that Georgia hadn’t executed a person who didn’t actually carry out a killing since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.
Kelly Gissendaner repeatedly pushed Owen in late 1996 to kill her husband rather than just divorcing him as Owen suggested, prosecutors have said. Acting on her instructions, Owen ambushed Douglas Gissendaner at Gissendaner’s home, forced him to drive to a remote area and stabbed him multiple times, prosecutors said.
Investigators looking into the killing zeroed in on Owen once they learned of his affair with Kelly Gissendaner. He initially denied involvement but eventually confessed and implicated Kelly Gissendaner.
Justin Wachin says
I’m glad to hear Georgia is willing to send a message to those who devise such brutal plans. Women have clamored for equal treatment; it is refreshing to see they are also punished for the crimes they commit.
Postponing an execution because the drug looks cloudy is a new one. Were official afraid the drug had gone bad? I guess someone thought it would sure be a shame for a tainted lethal injection drug to make the prisoner sick or kill them.
robert meyer says
when you have a muslim presdent honor killings will escalate.
Why isn’t Owen being executed too. He was just as responsible!! Now he is going to be up for parole in 2022.????
She may have wanted it done BUT he did it.