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Wednesday, September 30, 2015 - 7:37am

Gissendaner Denied Clemency

Georgia has executed its only female death row inmate.

Kelly Renee Gissendaner was pronounced dead at 12:21 a.m. Wednesday at the state prison in Jackson.

A group of about 300 death penalty protesters waited in the rain to see if the execution would be carried out. Among them was Dawn Barber, who credits Gissendaner for helping her survive prison.

"Kelly kept me alive," she said. "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 lockdown."

As waiting wore on and the final legal arguments were exhausted, supporters sang hymns toward the prison. 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 said. "She said, 'tell the Gissendaners I am so so sorry this amazing man lost his life because of me.'"


The Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole denied Tuesday to reconsider the issue of clemency for Kelly Gissendaner.

The denial came after a hearing Tuesday, the same day she is scheduled to be put to death for the 1997 murder of her husband. This was the third request for audience with the Board of Pardons and Parole.

The Board of Pardons and Parole elected to close the meeting to the public before Gissendaner's three children advocated for her.

Midway through the hearing, Pope Francis published a letter asking the Board to spare Gissendaner. Not long after that they issued their decision.

In the official statement about their decision, the Board declined to describe what they considered in arriving at the conclusion to uphold their ruling in February to let Gissendaner's death sentence stand.

"Again the board, as I said, has done an exhaustive review of all the information," Board spokesman Steve Hayes said later to media. "The board has reached its decision based on how each individual board member views the case."

Gissendaner is scheduled to die at 7pm Tuesday. If she is executed she will be the first woman put to death in Georgia since 1945.