Kelly Gissendaner, the first woman sentenced to death in Georgia in 70 years, may be breathing a temporary sigh of relief right now. After her appeal for clemency was denied, Gissendaner was supposed to be executed on February 25. However, due to weather concerns and scheduling conflicts, her death by lethal injection was postponed. Gissendaner, who pleaded guilty for her involvement in the death of her husband Douglas Gissendaner, will be executed on March 2 instead.
Gissendaner fought hard for clemency. She appealed to the Board of Pardons and Paroles and submitted a 53-page application featuring testimonials from her family, friends, and members of the clergy. Her former warden at Metro State Prison, Vanessa O’ Donnell, also offered her testimony.
“I understand the severity of her conviction, nevertheless, it seems appropriate, in this case, that her 17 years of isolation warrants a commutation permitting her to spend the remainder of her life serving as an example to fellow inmates. She can provide hope to the most desperate female offender in a manner no one else could possibly understand.”
The application painted a picture of Gissendaner as a changed woman who has been repenting for her crimes, and that she has even reconnected with her family, especially her children. However, the board released a statement saying that they’ll be denying Gissendaner’s application after reviewing the testimony.
Doug Gissendaner’s family released a statement after the board reached its decision. “This has been a long, hard, heartbreaking road for us. Now that this chapter in this nightmare is over, Doug would want us and all of the people who loved him to find peace, to remember all the happy times and cherish memories we have of him. We should all strive every day to be the kind of person he was. Never forget him,” Mr. Gissendaner’s family said in the statement.
The statement ended with, “Doug was a wonderful person and beloved father, son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin and friend. He is so loved by all of us and we cherish the memories we have of him. We will never forget the goodness and kindness he brought to this world. We will love him always.”
Kelly Gissendaner conspired with her lover, Gregory Owen, to kill Doug. Owen, armed with a nightstick and a knife, stabbed Doug to death and made it look like a robbery. However, Owen eventually confessed to the crime and implicated Kelly Gissendaner. Owen avoided the death penalty by providing evidence of Kelly’s involvement in the crime.
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