Atlanta, September 29, 2015 – In a 5-to-2 decision, the Supreme Court of Georgia has denied a stay of execution for Kelly Renee Gissendaner, who was scheduled to be put to death at 7:00 tonight by lethal injection at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, GA.
Gissendaner, 47, was convicted in Gwinnett County of murder and sentenced to death for her role in the 1997 fatal stabbing of her husband, Douglas Gissendaner, by her boyfriend, Gregory Bruce Owen. In a plea bargain, Owen pleaded guilty to murder and agreed not to seek parole for 25 years. In exchange, he received a sentence of life in prison. At Gissendaner’s trial, Owen testified that the murder was Gissendaner’s idea, and that while he suggested she divorce her husband instead, she believed she would not receive his insurance money unless he was dead.
In addition to denying Gissendaner’s motion for stay of execution, the state Supreme Court has denied her request to appeal today’s Butts County court order denying her motion for a stay of execution and dismissing her constitutional challenge of her sentence as disproportionate. Gissendaner’s attorneys argued that she was not present when her husband was murdered by Owen, yet he received a sentence of life in prison with an eventual possibility of parole.
The state’s high court also has denied Gissendaner’s request to appeal today’s Fulton County court order dismissing her petition for a “writ of mandamus” to force the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to consider all information about Gissendaner’s institutional record while in prison before rendering a clemency decision. In this case, her attorneys argued that the Department of Corrections prevented its employees from providing pertinent information to the Board of Pardons and Paroles about her case.
All the Justices concurred in today’s rulings except Justices Robert Benham and Carol Hunstein, who dissented.