Corrections officials in Georgia have temporarily halted executions so they can analyze a drug that prompted the last-minute postponement of a lethal injection.
Kelly Renee Gissendaner was set to be executed Monday at 7 p.m. The Department of Corrections postponed it “out of an abundance of caution” because the pentobarbital meant for the execution appeared cloudy. Corrections officials said in a news release Tuesday they were delaying the executions of Gissendaner and Brian Keith Terrell, who was set to die next week.
The executions will be rescheduled once the department has finished its analysis and is ready to proceed, the release said.
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 winter weather predicted in the area.
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. 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.
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SOURCE: KATE BRUMBACK