Two hours before her scheduled execution — which was ultimately called off because of cloudy lethal injection drugs — Kelly Gissendaner made a final statement in which she expressed love for her kids and thanked her legal team.
The Georgia Department of Corrections has released a recording made by Gissendaner, who was convicted of orchestrating the stabbing murder of her husband at the hands of her lover in 1997. The execution was scheduled for Monday but it was postponed due to concerns over the drugs to be used.
"I just want to tell my kids that I love them and I'm proud of them and no matter what happens tonight, love does beat out hate," the mother of three says in a clear voice. "You keep strong and keep your heads up. I love you."
She continued with a message for her defense team. "I want to tell my lawyers thank you for all they've done," she added. "No matter what happens I know you've done your best and I love you all."
When Gissendaner, 46, made the recording, she was waiting to hear if the U.S. Supreme Court would step in and halt her execution after a series of lower courts and the state parole board had declined to stop it.
The justices had not yet made a decision when Gissendaner got an unexpected reprieve: Someone noticed the solution of pentobarbital that was to be used looked cloudy and the execution was postponed.
The execution of a second prisoner has since been postponed while Georgia has the drugs — obtained from a compounding pharmacy behind a veil of secrecy — analyzed.
Gissendaner is the only woman on Georgia's death row. Her case has drawn attention because hundreds of clergy members have pleaded for clemency for her, noting that she completed a theology program behind bars and got a harsher sentence than the person who carried out the murder.