Georgia’s Only Woman On Death Row Sues Over ‘Mortal Fear’ During Delayed Execution

Kelly Gissendaner1

Kelly Gissendaner, Georgia’s only woman on death row

The case of Kelly Gissendaner, Georgia’s only woman on death row, has more twists and turns than a rural Georgia back road.

Gissendaner was initially set to be executed in late February but her execution was delayed “due to inclement weather”.

Kelly’s execution was rescheduled until March 2, 2015 and was yet again DELAYED due to the injection drug’s cloudy appearance.

This time Kelly Gissendaner’s camp is crying foul on the DOC (Department of Corrections) and has filed a lawsuit on Gissendaner’s behalf stating that she endured 13 hours of “immense mental anxiety” and “mortal fear” — and that the delay was heinous enough to make a future execution unnecessarily cruel and therefore unconstitutional.

Huffington Post:

In a scathing complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia,  attorneys for death row inmate Kelly Gissendaner slammed the Georgia Department of Corrections for secretive execution protocols and “dithering” indecision that led Gissendaner’s execution to be delayed indefinitely on the night it was scheduled.

“Ms. Gissendaner endured hours of unconstitutional torment and uncertainty –- to which she had not been sentenced –- while Defendants dithered about whether they could execute her”.

Invoking the bloody, botched execution by lethal injection of Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett in 2014, Gissendaner’s attorneys are now asking the court to stop the GDOC from proceeding with an execution until the state can prove there won’t be such risks of delays, error or malfunction going forward.

“This Court must intervene, lest [the GDOC] be permitted to rubber-stamp their own demonstrably-defective processes and again resume executions behind a veil of secrecy,” the complaint states. Georgia does not make public several execution protocols including how a mix of the lethal injection drug will be tested and who will administer such tests.

Attorneys for Gissendaner, 47, say the agony of the indecision and waiting was a “great increase” of her punishment and noted “she has no remedy for that violation.”

GDOC Commissioner Homer Bryson, Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison Warden Bruce Chatman and others named as defendants in the suit have 21 days to respond.

Gissendaner was sentenced to death 18 years ago, when a jury convicted her of plotting with her boyfriend to kill her husband, Douglas Gissendaner. She has admitted her guilt and apologized to her family, and supporters have fought for clemency, arguing that she has been reformed while in prison, even earned her theology degree theology degree through a prison educational program.

Kelly Gissendaner theology

Kelly Gissendaner earns theology degree. Photo credit: Ann Borden

Related Stories

  1. GA’s Only Woman On Death Row Denied Clemency

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