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Georgia to Execute First Woman in Seventy Years
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Kelly Renee Gissendaner

Summary: Despite three previous execution dates, this one is going to stick for Kelly Renee Gissendaner to be executed in Georgia.

In 1997, Kelly Renee Gissendaner recruited her lover to kill her husband with a knife. She was convicted a year later of his murder and was given the death penalty. Her lover, the one who actually committed the murder, made a plea deal that spared him from the death penalty if he testified against her. He received life in prison with parole.


Despite pleas from the pope and several clergy, Georgia’s parole board declined to commute her death sentence. This is the third execution date that the mother of three has faced. It is believed the parole board allowed this hearing only to appease her children, all of whom have reconciled with her. The family of her husband wanted death whereas her side of the family, including her children, wanted life in prison.

Gissendaner’s application for clemency focused on two facts. The first was that her boyfriend received a lesser sentence even though he is the one who carried out the act of murder. The second point was she has been a model inmate that counsels other inmates and completed a theology program.

The parole board focused more on her role as the mastermind behind the plan, telling her boyfriend to kill her husband to prove his love for her and make it possible for them to marry. Her husband also had a large life insurance policy that would have benefitted her had they gotten away with it.

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Gissendaner will be the first woman executed in Georgia in 70 years. There have only been 15 women executed in the U.S. since 1977.




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