Family of Kelly Gissendaner’s slain husband: Remember the victim

The family of Doug Gissendaner, the slain husband of death row inmate Kelly Gissendaner, issued a statement Monday through the Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office, expressing support for the legal system and asking for the public to remember the victim, not “the murderer.”

Kelly Gissendaner, who did not physically kill her husband but has admitted to devising the plot that led to his 1997 murder, is scheduled to be executed Tuesday. In the months since her original execution was postponed — first by weather and again by “cloudy” execution drugs — everyone from religious leaders, former inmates and her own children have come forward to ask for her life to be spared.

The Monday statement released by Doug Gissendaner’s family stopped short of outright advocating for her execution, but said Kelly Gissendaner has “been afforded every right that our legal system affords.

“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,” the statement said. “She had no mercy, gave him no rights, no choices, nor the opportunity to live his life. His life was not hers to take.”

» Read the full statement below.

On Feb. 7, 1997, Doug Gissendaner was kidnapped and stabbed to death by Gregory Bruce Owen, his wife’s lover. Owen — who received a life sentence in exchange for his testimony — said in court that Kelly Gissendaner planned her husband’s killing and provided him with the murder weapons.

Kelly Gissendaner was out with friends when Owen kidnapped Doug Gissendaner from the couple’s Auburn home, drove him to a wooded area near Dacula and killed him. Owen testified that Kelly Gissendaner thought murder was the only way to get Doug out of her life and still get the house and payoff from his life insurance.

Gissendaner was convicted and sentenced to death in 1998. Previously scheduled executions on Feb. 25 and March 2 of this year were postponed.

Monday morning, a federal judge declined to postpone her execution for a third time.

Those advocating for a stay have said she is now a fully reformed woman of God, and credit her with making a deep impact on the lives of fellow inmates.

None of that should matter, Doug Gissendaner’s family said Monday.

“[Doug Gissendaner] was … a family man, a great friend and an even greater father who loved and sacrificed everything for the sake of his daughter and two stepsons,” the family’s statement said. “For those of us that loved him, we will always feel great sorrow and indescribable pain at how he was brutally taken from us, but also take comfort in knowing that he’s in heaven waiting for each and every one of us to rejoin him someday.”