Update, Sept. 30, 2015, 9:45 a.m.: Kelly Gissendaner was put to death early Wednesday morning. She reportedly made a final statement apologizing for her crime and sang “Amazing Grace” during the execution.
Original post, Sept. 29, 2015, 10:46 p.m.: Georgia woman Kelly Gissendaner is set to be executed by lethal injection on Tuesday night, after multiple legal appeals to stay the execution were rejected. The Georgia parole board denied a request for clemency without explanation; the U.S. Supreme Court and the Georgia Supreme Court both rejected appeals for a stay on Tuesday. Gissendaner’s legal team filed another stay to the Supreme Court late Tuesday evening. The Vatican also weighed in last week urging the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to spare the 47-year-old’s life, in favor of life in prison.
Gissendaner was convicted of convincing her boyfriend to murder her husband in 1997. The boyfriend was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison as part of a plea deal. Gissendaner rejected the plea deal, which would have meant a life sentence with potential for parole in exchange for pleading guilty.
Gissendaner’s lawyers’ request for her sentence to be reduced was notably straightforward, saying she had undergone an astonishing rehabilition. They cited a “‘sincere remorse and acceptance of responsibility’ [and] [h]er supporters argued, in part, that her ‘good works in prison’ justified a stay and, ultimately, commutation to a life sentence,” according to the New York Times. “Ms. Gissendaner’s lawyers also argued that her sentence was inappropriately severe because she was not present for her husband’s murder and because Georgia has not executed a ‘non-trigger person’ since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.”
Gissendaner’s lethal injection had been scheduled to be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday but was delayed by the court filings.