Clemency denied for Kelly Gissendaner

BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: Clemency has been denied, but weather has granted a stay on Gissendaner's execution.

It's now up to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to decide whether Kelly Gissendaner loves or dies.

The only woman on Georgia's death row is scheduled to be executed on Wednesday night, but the results of her clemency hearing, held on Tuesday, could change that.

Gissendaner was sentenced to death for orchestrating the 1997 murder of her husband, Doug.  He was kidnapped, driven to a remote area, then beaten and stabbed to death.  The man who carried out the killing was Gregory Owens, who was involved with Gissendaner at the time.

Owens received a sentence of life in prison and is eligible for parole.  And while Gissendaner's attorneys argued about the disparity, the man who prosecuted Gissendaner doesn't buy it.

"The offer was made to both of them," says Gwinnett District Attorney Danny Porter.  "The offer was made and Kelly Gissendaner decided to take her chances and go to trial.

"It's kind of hard to argue how unfair it is," says Porter, "when you've kind of thumped your nose at the offer that would have gotten you the same sentence."

Porter spoke at the hearing, along with Phil Wiley, the ADA who prosecuted the case, relatives of Doug Gissendaner, attorneys for Kelly Gissendaner and her acquaintances.
Porter, who argued against clemency, says the sentence was fair and she got what she deserves.

"If it hadn't been for Kelly Gissendaner, Doug Gissendaner might still be alive," Porter says.  "He might have raised his children.  He might have gone on.  There are a lot of possibilities that were snuffed out in 1997 that she's responsible for."

If Gissendaner is executed she would be the first woman put to death in Georgia since 1945.

If the clemency board denies her request then her final appeals will be to the federal court system and the U.S. Supreme Court.





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