Ga. woman executed after appeals fail to spare her life

After a five-hour delay, Georgia death row inmate Kelly Gissendaner was executed early Wednesday morning for her role in the killing of her husband.

Gissendaner was scheduled to die at 7 p.m. Tuesday, but her lawyers filed appeals to state and federal courts in her final hours to try to spare her life.

Her children had to make a heart-wrenching choice Tuesday: go see their mother one last time, or make a final appeal in front of the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles.

“We chose to try and save her life, and they still denied us,” daughter Kayla Gissendaner said outside the state’s execution facility in Jackson.

Even a recent letter on behalf of the Pope wasn’t enough to sway the parole board.

So Gissendaner’s legal team filed three appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court — all of which were denied.

When Gissendaner finally walked to the execution chamber after midnight, she saw the witnesses through a window and began sobbing, witness Jeff Hullinger of WXIA-TV said.

She then made a final statement “apologizing to an amazing man that lost his life because of her,” Hullinger said.

Gissendaner was convicted of murder for persuading her lover to kill her husband in 1997. She became Georgia’s first female prisoner to be executed in 70 years.

As Gissendaner was being executed, the Gwinnett Daily Post reported, she sang “Amazing Grace.”

Pope Francis weighed in

While waiting for an answer from the board, a representative for Pope Francis sent a letter saying that the Pope wanted the board to spare Gissendaner’s life.

 

“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 presented to your Board, to commute the sentence to one that would better express both justice and mercy,” the letter read.

It wasn’t clear whether the board saw the Vatican representative’s letter. A spokesman for the board declined to comment, saying what happens inside the hearings is private.

This isn’t the only U.S. case to draw the attention of Francis, who called for an end to the death penalty when he spoke to Congress last week.

His representative has also sent a letter to Oklahoma’s governor, asking her to commute the death sentence for Richard Glossip, who’s scheduled to be executed there Wednesday.

The death row cases of Gissendaner and Glossip have something in common: Neither of the convicted murderers actually killed the victim.

In Glossip’s case, the man who bludgeoned the victim to death testified that Glossip had hired him for the murder. That killer is serving a life sentence.

Douglas Gissendaner’s family: He’s the victim

The family of Gissendaner’s slain husband, Douglas, said they had faith in the legal system.

 

“Kelly planned and executed Doug’s murder. She targeted him and his death was intentional. Kelly chose to have her day in court and after hearing the facts of this case, a jury of her peers sentenced her to death,” the statement read in part.

“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,” it said. “She had no mercy, gave him no rights, no choices, nor the opportunity to live his life. His life was not hers to take.”

Inmate’s children asked for mercy

But Kelly and Doug Gissendaner’s children pleaded with authorities to show mercy.

“My dad would not want my mom to be executed, even knowing her role in his murder,” Kayla Gissendaner said in an earlier statement. “He would not want us to endure another devastating loss.”

 

The daughter has said her mother changed over the past 18 years.

“I had to face what my mom had done and find a way to forgive her,” she said. “In the process, I saw that my mom had struggled through the years to come to grips with what she had done and face her own horror about her actions.”

More than 90,000 people signed a petition urging Gov. Nathan Deal to halt the execution, claiming the mother of three has turned her life around and calling her a “powerful voice for good.”

“While incarcerated, she has been a pastoral presence to many, teaching, preaching and living a life of purpose,” the petition states. “Kelly is a living testament to the possibility of change and the power of hope. She is an extraordinary example of the rehabilitation that the corrections system aims to produce.”

Her lawyers have argued that Gissendaner’s sentence was “disproportionate” compared to that of her co-defendant.

Gissendaner arranged to have her husband killed by Greg Owen, who stabbed Doug Gissendaner in the neck and back. Owen testified against Kelly Gissendaner as part of a plea bargain that got him a life sentence instead of death.

Execution postponed twice

Only 15 female inmates have been put to death in the United States since 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. The last woman executed in Georgia died in the electric chair in 1945.

Officials had previously set a date for Gissendaner’s execution, but called it off in February due to inclement weather.

 

A few days later, the Department of Corrections indefinitely postponed Gissendaner’s execution after finding “cloudy” lethal injection drugs.

The constitutionality of lethal injection drugs has made headlines in recent years and European manufacturers — such as Denmark-based Lundbeck, which manufactures pentobarbital — banned U.S. prisons from using their drugs in executions in 2013. That meant 32 states had to find new drug protocols.

Last year, Oklahoma issued a moratorium on executions after murderer and rapist Clayton Lockett convulsed, writhed and lay alive on a gurney for 43 minutes before dying. It was the state’s first time using a new three-drug cocktail for an execution.

Message for her children: ‘I love you’

Marcus Easley, a retired Chattanooga, Tennessee, police officer who was a friend and supporter of Kelly Gissendaner, told CNN affiliate WSB he met with her on Tuesday.

Gissendaner’s children, he said, were not able to visit her in prison because they were making a case for her life.

“They gave the children the choice between coming and seeing their mother one last time, or going before the parole board and fighting for her,” he said.

Easley said he met Gissendaner years ago while bringing students to her prison for prevention programs. “We just became very close and very good friends, and I support her, totally,” he said.

Easley said he asked Gissendaner whether she had a message for her children.

“I love you, I love you, I love you. I am so proud of you,” she said, according to Easley. Those were the last words he heard her say before he left.

ad-high_impact_4
News
ICE Detainee Prepares for Lawsuit in Las Vegas
Cecilia Gomez and her lawyer, Laura Berra, and representatives from Arriba Las Vegas Workers Center held a press conference Thursday morning. They announced the filing of a Freedom of Information Act request for all related documents to the Mexican mother's detention by immigration officers in late March and April.
What's Next For Mount Charleston Lodge
Christina Ellis, marketing director for Ellis Island, discusses what the company plans for their latest addition, the Mt. Charleston Lodge in Kyle Canyon.
Bill Cosby Found Guilty on All Charges
Bill Cosby Found Guilty on All Charges The 80-year-old actor has been convicted on three counts of aggravated indecent assault, all of which have a penalty of 10 years in prison. In 2004, Cosby drugged and raped Andrea Constand, a Temple University employee, when she went to him for career advice. Despite only being convicted for Constand’s case, multiple other women have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct. The verdict was delivered by the jury on Thursday after more than 14 hours of deliberation. This was the second trial for Constrand’s case against Cosby after the first trial ended in a mistrial when the jury could not come to a conclusion.
Suspected 'Golden State Killer' Arrested 30 Years After Crime Spree
Suspected 'Golden State Killer' Arrested 30 Years After Crime Spree According to 'The New York Times', police have made an arrest in connection with a series of unsolved murders and rapes during the 1970s and 1980s. 72-year-old Joseph James DeAngelo was arrested on two counts of murder, according to records from the Sacramento County jail. The Golden State Killer is believed to have killed at least 12 people, raped at least 45 people and burglarized more than 120 homes between 1976 and 1986. According to CNN, no one has ever been identified as a suspect before. Anne Marie Schubert, Sacramento District Attorney
Clark County teacher explains why he’s joining new union
A new local teachers union was created Wednesday, right after Clark County Education Association members voted to cut ties with the state and national union. The new local union retains those ties. (Meghin Delaney/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Genetic counselors in Southern Nevada area preaching testing for people with risk factors
Genetic counselors in Southern Nevada area preaching testing for people with risk factors to determine their cancer and disease risk. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Run Leaves Las Vegas
The 19th annual Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Run left Las Vegas Wednesday morning. More than 550 officers will run 132 segments to Carson City. Each leg represents an officer who died in the line of duty.
President Donald Trump speaks at White House ceremony for French president
President Donald Trump speaks during a welcome ceremony for French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday. (Debra Saunders/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks at White House ceremony
President Emmanuel Macron speaks at Tuesday ceremony welcoming the French leader and his wife to the White House. (Debra Saunders/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Toronto Attack Suspect Charged in Van Attack
Toronto Attack Suspect Charged in Van Attack According to the Associated Press, 25-year-old Alek Minassian was charged with 10 counts of 1st degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder. Minassian appeared in court Tuesday morning after mowing down and killing 10 people in a rented van Monday in downtown Toronto. 15 others were also injured in the attack. Authorities have not announced a motive. “As was indicated last night by our public security minister, at this time we have no reason to suspect that there is any national security element to this attack, but obviously the investigations continue.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
1 dead in shooting at southwest Las Vegas home
A dispute between roommates led to the fatal shooting of one man in the backyard of their southwest Las Vegas Valley home on Monday, April 23, 2018. (Rio Lacanlale/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
9 Dead and at Least 16 Injured as Van Hits Pedestrians in Toronto
9 Dead and at Least 16 Injured as Van Hits Pedestrians in Toronto The driver of the van is now in custody after climbing the curb and plowing through crowds of people. Witnesses describe a scene of chaos as the trail stretched about one mile before coming to a stop. Witness, via CTV Canada's Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, made initial statements after learning of the incident. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson Welcomes New Baby Girl!
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Welcomes New Baby Girl! The 45-year-old actor posted an adorable photo on Instagram, celebrating his newborn baby girl, Tiana Gia Johnson. Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram This is Johnson’s second daughter with his girlfriend, Lauren Hashian. His oldest daughter, Simone Garcia Johnson, came from his previous marriage. Johnson and Hashian first announced they were expecting another child back in January. Congratulations!!
High School Senior Wins Writing Scholarship
Kye "Kai" Catarata was presented with a $1,000 scholarship at the Las Vegas Writer's Conference Saturday at the Tuscany Suites and Casino.
It's a Boy! Duchess of Cambridge Gives Birth to Third Child
It's a Boy! Duchess of Cambridge Gives Birth to Third Child Kensington Palace announced that Prince William and Princess Kate traveled by car to the private Lindo Wing of St. Mary's Hospital in central London Monday. The child was born at 11:01 a.m. local time, weighing 8lbs 7oz. Her Royal Highness and her child are both doing well. Kensington Palace The new addition will be fifth in line to the throne, Queen Elizabeth II's sixth great-grandchild and third grandchild of Charles, Prince of Wales. Catherine and Harry married in 2011 and have two other children, Prince George, 4, and Princess Charlotte, who turns 3 next month.
Dr. Abbatangelo: Professor, Pageant Queen and Animal Dentist
Dr. Tina M. Abbatangelo, a professor of clinical practice at UNLV dentist school spends her free time and money traveling across the country to help treat exotic animals.
Joseph Otting, U.S. comptroller of the currency during an interview with RJ
Joseph Otting, U.S. comptroller of the currency during an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Otting oversees all national banks, credit unions, mutual savings banks, coops and the federal branches and agencies of foreign banks in the United States. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Paris Wade discusses about his “Liberty Writers” website
Paris Wade, who made national headlines for operating a fake news website and boasts about getting President Donald Trump elected in 2016, speaks during an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Friday, April 20, 2018, in Las Vegas. Wade is running for Nevada Assembly. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Police Unity Tour from New Jersey to Washington D.C. to commemorate fallen officers.
Las Vegas Metro police and Henderson police officers ride their bikes during the Vegas Team's last practice rides in preparation for the Police Unity Tour from New Jersey to Washington D.C. to commemorate fallen officers. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review Journal @bizutesfaye
UNLV students walk out of class on national walkout day
UNLV students and supporters chanted, marched and rallied on national walkout day Friday, April 20 on the 19th anniversary of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Colorado. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Veterans Find Comfort in Crafting
Patriot Place Apartments, an affordable housing facility that gives preference to veterans, started moving people in in August. The apartment buildings have 41, one-bedroom and 9 two-bedrooms and provide rental assistance or subsidized rent to residents based on their income. Thirteen apartments were fully furnished and set-aside specifically for low-income veterans with a disability and who are facing the challenges of homelessness. The facility also offers activities like crafting to help vets socialize and build confidence. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Captain Sasha Larkin Discusses Challenges, Progress in North West
Captain Sasha Larkin, of Metro's Northwest Area Command, discusses what issues face the northwest valley's residents and what police are doing to address them.
Southwest giving passengers on deadly flight $5,000 for compensation
Passengers on Flight 1380 have been receiving checks as a gesture of goodwill from the airline.
Ellis Island Buys Mt. Charleston Lodge
Ellis Island, which operates a casino, brewery and hotel just off the Strip, purchased the Mt. Charleston Lodge in early April.
LVMPD Arrests Suspect in Sunset Park Shooting
Captain Robert Plummer held a press conference at LVMPD headquarters Thursday to provide updates on the arrest of Anthony J. Wrobel, accused of killing a Venetian executive and wounding one other in a shooting on Sunday.
Two Black Men Arrested at Starbucks Share Their Story
Two Black Men Arrested at Starbucks Share Their Story Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson sat down with ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ on Thursday and said the Starbucks manager called the police two minutes after they arrived. Donte Robinson, to 'Good Morning America' Donte Robinson, to 'Good Morning America' The men were meeting with a friend for a business meeting at the store’s location at around 3:45 pm on April 12 and declined to make any purchases. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson issued a public apology and vowed to fix the issue by closing 8,000 stores nationwide next month for training on unconscious bias. Both Nelson and Robinson were released without charges after spending hours in jail, and the manager is no longer with the company.
Hero Southwest Pilot Was One of the Navy’s First Female Fighter Pilots
Hero Southwest Pilot Was One of the Navy’s First Female Fighter Pilots Tammie Jo Shults is being called a hero after safely landing the crippled Southwest Flight 1380 in Philadelphia. According to a spokesperson, Shults began her Navy career in 1985 and was one of the first female pilots to “transition to tactical aircraft.” She served for another eight years before moving to the Naval Reserve, retiring completely in 2001 with the rank of Lt. Commander. The Southwest flight, which was headed for Dallas from New York, was forced to make an emergency landing after one of its engines blew. One passenger was killed in the explosion when shrapnel flew through a window. Seven others suffered minor injuries aboard the flight, which carried 149 people. Passenger Peggy Phillips, to NBC News Passenger Peggy Phillips, to NBC News
Bump stock manufacturers under fire
The Justice Department said last month that it had started the process to amend federal firearms regulations to clarify that federal law defines bump stocks as machine guns.
Artist, Community Paint Winchester Skate Park
Andrew Schoultz, a Los Angeles-based artist with an upcoming exhibit at UNLV's Barrick Museum, painted the skate park at Winchester Cultural Center on Tuesday.
Prince death investigation coming to an end
Prosecutors in Minnesota plan an announcement Thursday on the two-year investigation into Prince's death from a drug overdose Prince was 57 when he was found alone and unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park estate on April 21, 2016. An autopsy found he died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl. Search warrants unsealed about a year after Prince died showed that authorities searched his home, cellphone records of associates and his email accounts to try to determine how he got the drug. The county attorney has scheduled a morning announcement at which time charges could be filed.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Nation and World Video
Events
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like