Woman on Ga. death row to be executed Tuesday

Kelly Renee GissendanerKelly Renee Gissendaner

Condemned murderer Kelly Renee Gissendaner is scheduled to be executed at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, Ga.

Kelly Renee Gissendaner was set to be executed in late February and early March for her role in the Feb. 7, 1997, death of her husband, Douglas Gissendaner. Officials delayed the March execution at the 11th hour after the drug to be used appeared to be cloud.

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.

A federal judge last month dismissed a lawsuit filed by Gissendaner who says an extended delay of her execution was cruel and unusual punishment. If executed, Gissendaner would be the first woman put to death in Georgia since 1945.

Media witnesses for the execution are: Rhonda Cook of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution; Joshua Sharpe of the Gwinnett Daily Post; Kate Brumback of The Associated Press; Jeffrey Hullinger of WXIA-TV; and Randall Savage of WMAZ-TV

Gissendaner requested a last meal consisting of cheese dip with chips, Texas fajita nachos and a diet frosted lemonade.

There have been 57 men executed in Georgia since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1973. If executed, Gissendaner will be the 35th inmate put to death by lethal injection. There are presently 80 men on death row in Georgia. Gissendaner is currently the only woman on death row.

Gissendaner’s children are pleading with the state to spare their mother’s life, according to media reports. Former Georgia Supreme Court Justice Norman Fletcher, who voted to uphold Gissendaner’s death sentence, is among those calling for her sentence to be commuted.

“It is especially appropriate to consider proportionality when evaluating cases in which one defendant who is more culpable than another is given a sentence of less than death, while the latter is given the ultimate punishment,” the Gwinnett Daily Post quoted Fletcher as saying. “When this issue came before me as a justice, I joined in the ruling against Ms. Gissendaner. As part of that opinion, we concluded that her sentence was proportionate to her role in the crime. I was wrong.”

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