Even Pope Francis' appeal could not save Kelly Renee Gissendaner from becoming the first woman to be executed in Georgia, United States on Wednesday, the state's Department of Corrections confirmed.
The Georgia board of pardons and paroles denied clemency for the woman after hearing requests to spare her life from her children and from Pope Francis, the Guardian said.
The Supreme Court of Georgia also denied a stay of execution for Gissendaner shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court denied her application for a stay of execution on Tuesday evening. According to the Associated Press (AP), The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a second appeal shortly before 11:00 p.m. on Tuesday and then a third at 11:35 p.m.
Gissendaner, 47, executed by lethal injection, was sentenced to death for her role in plotting the 1997 murder of her husband. She was one of 54 women on death row in the United States. Prosecutors said she recruited her then boyfriend to murder her husband, Douglas Gissendaner, who was stabbed to death in a desolate area in suburban Atlanta after being kidnapped from his home.
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She was scheduled to be executed in February, but it was called off due to inclement weather. A March 2 execution was also postponed when prison officials noticed the lethal injection drug appeared "cloudy." Tests indicated the appearance was caused by storing the drug at too low a temperature.
The state's board of pardons had received a letter from Pope Francis urging to cancel Gissendaner’s execution, the first since the pontiff delivered a speech in Congress last week calling for the U.S. to abolish the death penalty.
“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,” Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano wrote on behalf of the pope.
The last woman before Kelly Renee to be executed in Georgia was on March 5, 1945, when Lena Baker was killed in the electric chair for murdering her employer, whom she argued had abused her. She claimed she responded in self-defense and Georgia's parole board pardoned her in 2005, saying it was a "grievous error" that she was denied clemency.
This year, 20 executions have been carried out in the United States, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. The last woman to be executed was Lisa Coleman in Texas in Sept. 2014, the center added.
There are five other executions scheduled over the next nine days across the U.S., including that of Richard Glossip in Oklahoma, where a nun, Sister Helen Prejean, has been urging the state to hear new evidence of his possible innocence.
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