Georgia to Execute First Woman Since 1945

Kelly Gissendaner lost clemency appeal
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Mar 2, 2015 11:06 AM CST
In a July 6, 2004, photo, Kelly Gissendaner, the only woman on Georgia's death row, peers through the slot in her cell door as a guard brings her a cup of ice at Metro State Prison in Atlanta.   (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Bita Honarvar)

(Newser) – Georgia is preparing to execute a woman for the first time since 1945. Kelly Renee Gissendaner, 46, is scheduled to be put to death tonight, an event that would make her the 16th woman to be executed since 1976, the AP reports; that's when the Supreme Court ended a halt on the practice. During the same period, according to the NAACP, "1,368 men have been executed," writes Steven Thrasher in the Guardian. He notes that Gissendaner, convicted in the 1997 murder of her husband, saw her final Supreme Court petition denied in October and lost a clemency appeal last week—even testimony from a man the New York Times calls "one of the world's most prominent theologians" couldn't save her.

During her time in prison, Gissendaner developed a strong interest in theology, studying in a prisoner program conducted by divinity schools around Atlanta. Her work drew her to German theologian Jürgen Moltmann. "She wrote to him, and a friendship developed," says one of her teachers. He ended up testifying in the clemency effort last week, alongside her professors and other inmates whom Gissendaner herself has helped with spiritual matters. "I have found her very sensitive, and not a monster, as the newspapers depicted her," Moltmann tells the Times. "She has changed her mind, and her life." Winter weather delayed her scheduled execution on Wednesday; she requested as her last meal two Burger King Whoppers, salad, fries, and cornbread, WXIA adds.

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