The U.S. state of Georgia executed its only woman on death row early on Wednesday, marking the first time in 70 years the state has carried out a death sentence on a woman, a prison official said.
Kelly Gissendaner, 47, died by injection at 12:21 a.m. EDT at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, a prison spokeswoman said.
Gissendaner was sentenced to death after being convicted of first-degree murder for her role in plotting the killing of her husband in 1997.
Pope Francis, who concluded a six-day U.S. trip on Sunday and is an outspoken opponent of the death penalty, had urged officials to commute her death sentence.
Gissendaner’s execution marks the first death sentence carried out against a woman in Georgia in 70 years. She was the 16th woman executed in the United States since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday denied last-minute requests for a stay of execution from the lawyers for Gissendaner.
The state’s Board of Pardons and Paroles met on Tuesday to decide whether its refusal earlier this year to commute Gissendaner’s sentence to life in prison should stand.
Board members were not swayed by the inmate’s latest appeal for clemency, which emphasized her model behavior in prison and remorse for plotting her husband’s murder in 1997.
Rev. Cathy Zappa, an Episcopal priest who taught Gissendaner through a prison theology program, had said that Gissendaner was scared but had not wavered in her belief in God.
Prison spokeswoman Lisa Rodriguez-Presley…