What you need to know about the Kelly Gissendaner case

Kelly Gissendaner is scheduled to be put to death on Tuesday at 7 p.m. If her execution is carried out, she will be the first woman Georgia has put to death since 1945.

This is her third scheduled execution. Here's what else you need to know about her case and her impending execution.

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Gissendaner was sentenced to die for the February 1997 murder of her husband, Douglas Gissendaner, even though she didn’t actually carry out the crime. She persuaded her lover, Gregory Owen, to kill him while she was at a bar with friends.

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Owen was waiting at the Gissendaner house when Douglas Gissendaner came home after an evening at the home of friends from his church.

Douglas was forced at knife-point to drive to a remote area of Gwinnett County where Owen knocked the man unconscious and repeatedly stabbed him in the neck. Kelly Gissendaner arrived at the scene just as her husband died.

Owen pleaded guilty and testified against her and was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole after 25 years. Gissendaner rejected the same deal offered Owen and went to trial, where she convicted by a Gwinnett County jury.


Gissendaner was first scheduled to die in late February, but that was delayed because of winter weather.

Gissendaner's execution was rescheduled for the first week of March. Hours after the appointed time for her death, on March 2, the execution was called off because DOC doctors were troubled that the drug was cloudy.

The Georgia Department of Corrections said in April that its analysis of the the pentobarbital found nothing wrong. 

Gissendaner’s lawyers filed a complaint with the U.S. District Court in Atlanta, saying her constitutional protection from cruel and unusual punishment was violated when she was prepared for her execution then was told it would not happen and then that it would and again that it would not.

In August, U.S. District Judge Thomas Thrash dismissed Gissendaner’s lawsuit.


A loose-knit collection of former female convicts credit Gissendaner with giving them hope behind bars, ministering to them through an air vent. They are urging the state to reconsider her death sentence and let her live out her days in prison instead. The women call themselves Struggle Sisters.

The former inmates see the delays in her executions as a final chance to make their appeal. The women have established a Facebook page explaining their mission. They’ve recorded videos pleading her case, echoing the emotional pleas for mercy coming from two of Gissendaner’s children.


Gissendaner has already made her request for her last meal before her execution: cheese dip with chips, Texas nachos with fajita meat and a diet frosted lemonade.

The requested menu is significantly different from the “last meal” she was served before her last scheduled execution: cornbread, buttermilk, two Burger King Whoppers with cheese and all the trimmings, two large orders of French fries, cherry vanilla ice cream, popcorn and lemonade.

She also had a salad with boiled eggs, tomatoes, green peppers, onions, carrots, cheese and Paul Newman buttermilk dressing.

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