JACKSON, Ga. (AP) — Before they ultimately postponed an execution at the eleventh hour, Georgia officials were indecisive about whether they should proceed with a cloudy injection drug, according to a court filing.
Kelly Renee Gissendaner was set to die at 7 p.m. Monday. Corrections officials told reporters around 11 p.m. that they were postponing the execution "out of an abundance of caution" because the pentobarbital they intended to use was cloudy.
But the state's lawyers called Gissendaner's attorneys several times, changing their minds about whether to go forward, Gissendaner's lawyers wrote in an emergency motion for a stay of execution filed late Monday with the U.S. Supreme Court. Without intervention by the high court, Gissendaner's lawyers said, the state could decide to go ahead and execute her.
No new date was given for Gissendaner's execution.
Pentobarbital is the only drug used in Georgia executions. For other recent executions, the state has gotten the drug from a compounding pharmacy. Officials did not immediately respond to an email late Monday asking if that was the source in this case. Georgia law prohibits the release of any identifying information about the source of execution drugs or any entity involved in an execution.
Gissendaner was originally set to die Feb. 25, but corrections officials delayed the execution because of an impending snowstorm.
Gissendaner would have been the first woman executed in Georgia in 70 years and only the 16th woman put to death nationwide since the Supreme Court allowed the death penalty to resume in 1976. About 1,400 men have been executed since then, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
Gissendaner was convicted of murder in the death of her husband, Douglas Gissendaner. They had a troubled relationship and divorced and remarried. At the time of her husband's death, Gissendaner was a 28-year-old mother of three children, 12, 7 and 5 years old. And Gregory Owen was her on-again, off-again lover.
Rather than divorcing her husband again, Gissendaner repeatedly pushed Owen to kill him, prosecutors said. Acting on her instructions, Owen ambushed her husband while she went out with friends, and forced him to drive to a remote area. Then he marched him into the woods and stabbed him multiple times, prosecutors said.
Owen and Gissendaner then met up and set fire to the dead man's car in an attempted cover-up. Both initially denied involvement, but Owen eventually confessed and testified against his former girlfriend.