Pope Francis asks state to spare life of Georgia death row woman “Kelly Renee Gissendaner”

Updated: September 30, 2015
Pope Francis asks state to spare life of Georgia death row woman "Kelly Renee Gissendaner"

Pope Francis has asked the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles not to execute Kelly Gissendaner.

The execution of Kelly Renee Gissendaner, 47, is scheduled to die by injection of pentobarbital at 7 p.m. at the state prison in Jackson.

Gissendaner was convicted of murder in the February 1997 slaying of her husband. She conspired with her lover, who stabbed Douglas Gissendaner to death.

The parole board’s members reviewed a second request from Gissendaner’s lawyers to reconsider their February decision denying clemency. They held a meeting Tuesday morning to gather additional information from Gissendaner supporters.

The board released a statement saying it was standing by its February decision denying clemency and did not give any reason.

Gissendaner still has legal challenges pending before the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court.

The denial comes hours after Pope Francis’ diplomatic representative to the U.S. urgied the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to spare her life.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano wrote a letter Tuesday saying he was writing on behalf of Pope Francis. He cited an address the pope gave before a joint session of Congress last week during which the pontiff called for the abolition of the death penalty.

The parole board is the only entity authorized to commute a death sentence in Georgia.

Two of Gissendaner’s three children previously addressed the board. A lawyer for Gissendaner said her oldest son wants to ask the board to spare her life.