Despite a plea for clemency from Pope Francis, a US board has decided to execute the only woman on its death row.
Kelly Gissendaner, the 47-year-old death row inmate, who was accused of murder?in 1997 was denied clemency and is to be executed by lethal injection??at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson?at seven?pm Tuesday.
?In reaching its decision, the Board thoroughly reviewed all information and documents pertaining to the case, including the latest information presented by Gissendaner?s representatives,? a statement by?board chairman Terry Barnard said.
According to reports by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the pontiff, back in Rome now after a six-day visit to the US, sent a plea letter through a representative, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano.
?While not wishing to minimize the gravity of the crime for which Ms. Gissendander has been convicted, and while sympathizing with the victims, I nonetheless implore you, in consideration of the reasons that have been expressed to your board, to commute the sentence to one that would better express both justice and mercy,? Vigano wrote.
An early Tuesday hearing, Gissendaner?s attorneys presented arguments against her execution to Georgia?s parole board, saying the death penalty is disproportionate to the crime since Gissendaner was not the ?trigger person? in her husband?s death.
The parole board is the only entity authorized to commute a death sentence in Georgia.
Gissendaner?s lawyers have also released statements from high-profile figures, including former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Norman Fletcher and former US Congressman Bob Barr, arguing that Gissendaner should not be executed because her death sentence is disproportionate since her friend, Gregory Owen, who actually did the killing under her influence, got a life sentence and will be eligible for parole in seven years.
A rally in support of Kelly Gissendaner was held Monday evening at the state capitol in downtown Atlanta. Dozens of supporters turned out in hopes of swaying the state parole board.