Kelly Gissendaner, who was convicted of murder nearly two decades ago in Georgia, was put to death early this morning, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She was 47. Her final conscious act was singing “Amazing Grace.” The execution capped a roller-coaster kind of day in which one of Gissendaner's children begged that his mother be spared. An emissary from Pope Francis asked the state Board of Paroles and Pardons to give Gissendaner clemency for persuading her lover to kill her husband, Douglas, in 1997. Scores of people turned out in the rain and mist to show support for Gissendaner.
Last night, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a decision reached by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to let the execution proceed. In her final hours, Gissendaner hosted visitors. One was Marcus Easley, a retired Chattanooga police officer who has spent years working in prison ministries. He met Gissendaner 15 years ago, and came away convinced that hers was a life worth saving. Three people who did not visit: her children. They chose to make a final appeal to the pardons and parole board instead of visiting her. The execution marks the resumption of capital punishment in Georgia. It also was the first time Georgia has executed a woman since 1945. Hers was the first execution to take place in the U.S. since Pope Francis called on Congress last week to abolish capital punishment.