By Polly Mosendz
September 29, 2015
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The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denied clemency to Kelly Renee Gissendaner on Tuesday afternoon. As a result, Gissendaner, who was charged with convincing her boyfriend to kill her husband in 1998, will be executed at 7 p.m.
The execution is unusual, as Gissendaner did not carry out the crime, though she was involved. “Ms. Gissendaner, who was not present during the killing, got death while the actual killer got life. The State of Georgia has not executed a non-trigger person since the penalty was reinstated in 1976,” her lawyers wrote in the application for reconsideration of clemency.
Pope Francis, who spoke against execution during his tour of the United States last week, sent a letter on Gissendaner’s behalf through a representative.
“While not wishing to minimize the gravity of the crime for which Ms. Gissendaner has been convicted, and while sympathizing with the victims, I nonetheless implore you, in consideration of the reasons chat have been presented to your Board, to commute the sentence to one that would better express both justice and mercy,” he wrote.
The victim’s family disagrees with the pope. “As the murderer, she’s been given more rights and opportunity over the last 18 years than she ever afforded to Doug who, again, is the victim here. She had no mercy, gave him no rights, no choices, nor the opportunity to live his life. His life was not hers to take,” a spokesperson for Doug Gissendaner’s family said in a statement.