The AP report, filed by Kate Brumback through AOL.com today, September 30, 2015, stated that at 12:21 a.m. Kelly Renee Gissendaner paid her debt to society by lethal injection at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, Georgia. She had been incarcerated after being found guilty of persuading her lover to stab her husband to death in 1997.
She was given a lethal injection of phenobarbital and passed away singing hymns like “Amazing Grace.” Her children were not present as they were trying a last ditch effort to have the execution halted.
The family of her husband, Douglas Gissendaner, was reconciled with the verdict and her execution. They said that while she caused him to die instantly and was robbed of a life, she has been living every day since his death.
She was found guilty of enticing Gregory Owen, her lover, to lure her husband off into a deserted place and stabbing him to death. It was told that Ms. Gissendaner, age 47, had apologized to her husband’s family and told her children that she loved them. “I just want to say God bless you all and I love you, you let my kids know I went out singing ‘Amazing Grace,’,” Gissendaner said.
Her execution had been postponed twice; once for inclement weather and the second time it was reported that the injection appeared to be cloudy. Before her execution, she met with Rev. Della Bacote who said, “She was at peace with whatever was to come.”
Besides her children addressing the Board of Pardon and Paroles, many others came to her defense including a letter sent from Pope Francis’ diplomatic Representative Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano who sent a letter to the parole board on the Pope’s behalf.
The U.S. Supreme Court, as well as lower courts, denied her stay of execution. The board didn’t give a reason for the denial but said it had carefully considered her request for reconsideration.
The AP report stated that Gissendaner’s lawyers submitted a statement from former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Norman Fletcher to the parole board. Fletcher argued 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. 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.