Georgia set to execute first woman since 1945

Kelly Renee GissendanerKelly Renee Gissendaner

ATLANTA — The state of Georgia is set to execute a Gwinnett County woman for her role in the Feb. 7, 1997, death of her husband.

If Georgia executes 46-year-old Kelly Renee Gissendaner at 7 p.m. on Feb. 25 at the state prison in Jackson, she would be the first woman executed in Georgia since 1945, according to published reports.

Gissendaner was convicted on Nov. 18, 1999, and sentenced to death the following day. A co-defendant, Gregory Bruce Owen, pleaded guilty and is serving a life sentence.

According to prosecutors, Gissendaner first brought up to Owen the idea of killing her husband, Douglas Gissendaner, in November 1996. Gissendaner asked Owen how to get rid of her husband, and Owen suggested a divorce, prosecutors say.

Gissendaner and Owen discussed killing her husband four or five times before agreeing on Feb. 7, 1997, to the murder, according to prosecutors. Owen picked up Douglas Gissendaner at his home, drove him to a remote area of Gwinnett County, took his watch and wedding ring and stabbed him to death while Gissendaner was out with friends, according to prosecutors.

Gissendaner and her husband were married in September 1989, separated in September 1991, divorced in March 1993 and remarried in May 1995. Following her husband’s death, Gissendaner later appeared on television asking the public to help locate her husband.

The State Board of Pardons and Paroles is set to consider Gissendaner’s case on Feb. 24. The board could decide to commute the sentence to life in prison.

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Todd DeFeo

Todd DeFeo loves to travel anywhere, anytime, taking pictures and notes. An award-winning reporter, Todd revels in the experience and the fact that every place has a story to tell. He is owner of The DeFeo Groupe and also edits The Travel Trolley and Railfanning.org.