The Second World War was just coming to an end the last time the state of Georgia put a woman to death. Tuesday, 70 years later, Kelly Gissendaner was executed by lethal injection for murdering her husband in 1997.
Despite the loss of their father, Gissendaner’s children were among those who asked the State Board of Pardons and Parole to spare her life. Yet after hearing those arguments on three separate occasions, her sentence was upheld by the Board.
A group of about three hundred death penalty protesters waited in the rain to see if the execution would be carried out. Among them was Dawn Barber. She credits Gissendaner for helping her survive prison.
"Kelly kept me alive. You know I was there, I had already broke the razor blade. You know I was going to slice my wrists and I was in lock down," Barber said.
That theme of Gissendaner the counselor was the other argument that failed to persuade the Board of Pardons and Parole.
As waiting wore on and the final legal arguments were exhausted, supporters sang hymns toward the prison.
Gissendaner was executed at twelve twenty one am Wednesday. Rhonda Cook of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, one of the media witnesses, described Gissendaner’s death.
"She sang Amazing Grace almost until she lost consciousness," Cook described. Then she quoted Kelly Gissendaner directly.
"Tell the Gissendaners I am so so sorry this amazing man lost his life because of me."
Kelly Gissendaner was forty seven years old.