Kelly Gissendaner, the sole female inmate on Georgia’s death row, will be executed Tuesday evening, 18 years after she plotted the murder of her husband.
Gissendaner will be the first woman to be executed in the state in the past 70 years (and the 16th woman executed in the United States since 1976), after numerous attempts to stay the execution failed. She is scheduled to receive a lethal injection at 7 pm at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson.
The prison’s decision comes just days after Pope Francis called for her commutation through a letter written by an archbishop.
“While not wishing to minimize the gravity of the crime for which Ms. Gissendaner has been convicted, and while sympathizing with the victims, I nonetheless implore you, in consideration of the reasons that have been expressed to your board, to commute the sentence to one that would better express both justice and mercy,” wrote Archbishop Caro Maria Vigano.
Others have come to her defense, citing her impeccable behavior in prison and her relative distance from the crime: Gregory Owen, the boyfriend who actually carried out the kidnapping and murder, only received a life sentence.
Gissendaner’s three children have also asked that her life be spared. Other members of Douglas Gissendaner’s family, however, remain steadfastly in favor of the execution.
“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 family wrote in a statement. “She had no mercy, gave him no rights, no choices, nor the opportunity to live his life. His life was not hers to take.”
In a statement, the State Board of Pardons and Parolees said:
“After carefully considering the request for reconsideration, and meeting with Gissendaner’s representatives again today, the Board has voted to let the decision of February 25, 2015, denying clemency stand...
In reaching its decision, the Board thoroughly reviewed all information and documents pertaining to the case, including the latest information presented by Gissendaner’s representatives. To date, the Board has reviewed the parole case on file on Gissendaner and three clemency applications in the case: the original application and two applications requesting the Board reconsider its decision to deny clemency. Gissendaner’s conviction and sentence have been upheld throughout the appeals process. Gissendaner’s appeal to the United States Supreme Court was denied on October 6, 2014.”
For her last meal, Gissendaner requested chips and cheese dip, Texas fajita nachos, and a diet frosted lemonade.
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Image via AP.