Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Georgia: Execution?

Georgia is considering whether or not to make Kelly Renee Gissendaner only the 16th female to be executed since Furman v. Georgia, Meanwhile, about 1,400 men have been executed nationwide.

Gissendaner had plotted the stabbing death of her husband, Douglas, by her boyfriend, Gregory Owen (who will be up for parole in eight years because he testified against her). The Associated Press describes the murder as follows:
Acting on her instructions, Owen ambushed her husband while she went out dancing with friends, and forced him to drive to a remote area. Then he marched him into the woods and stabbed him multiple times, prosecutors said. Owen and Gissendaner then met up and set fire to the dead man's car in an attempted cover-up, and both initially denied involvement, but Owen eventually confessed and testified against his former girlfriend. Her lawyers challenged the constitutionality of her sentence as disproportionate, given that she wasn't there when Owen killed her husband, and yet Owen will eventually be eligible for parole. But Georgia's Supreme Court voted 5-2 Monday to deny her motion, citing Owen's testimony that she pushed for murder rather than divorce so that she could get her husband's insurance money
It is said that Gissendaner "eventually took responsibility" and, today - her clemency application argues - she has been thoroughly "rehabilitated." But, her lawyers contest that many corrections employees are not willing to provide "overwhelmingly positive testimony" for fear that, if they speak up, there will be "retaliation." Says the AP:
Her clemency petition already included testimonials from dozens of spiritual advisers, inmates and prison staff who described a seriously damaged woman transformed through faith behind bars. She has shown remorse and provided hope to struggling inmates while helping guards maintain control, they said. "The spiritual transformation and depth of faith that Ms. Gissendaner demonstrates and practices is a deep and sincere expression of a personal relationship with God," Prison chaplain Susan Bishop wrote. 
Her former husband's parents and sister say they want the execution to go forward. See full story here.

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