Gissendaner, a mother of three from Auburn, wanted her husband dead so she could profit from two $10,000 life insurance policies and the couple's $84,000 house.She dropped off Owen [her "lover"] at her Auburn house before going out with friends on Feb. 7, 1997. Owen surprised 30-year-old Doug Gissendaner and forced him at knifepoint to drive to a remote area in eastern Gwinnett near the Walton County line, then made him walk into the woods and kneel down. Owen beat Doug Gissendaner with a nightstick, he said, and stabbed him repeatedly in the neck and back.
Then, Owen said, he drove around in the victim's Chevrolet Caprice until Kelly Gissendaner paged him. She arrived with a Coke bottle filled with gasoline, Owen said, and he used it to burn the car.
Evidence at trial showed that Gissendaner, prior to her arrest, drove angrily toward a witness while declaring, "I ought to run the bitch over." While in jail, she wrote a letter and drew a map of her house in an effort to locate a person willing to accept money to commit perjury and to rob and beat witnesses.
Gissendaner v. State, 272 Ga. 704, 532 SE2d 677 (2000) (citations omitted).We conclude that the deliberate, even insistent, manner in which Gissendaner pursued her husband's death, the fact that the murder was the unprovoked and calculated killing of a close family member, the fact that she arranged the murder to obtain money, and the fact that she attempted to avoid responsibility for her conduct by suborning perjury and orchestrating violence against witnesses all weigh heavily against her claim that the death penalty in her case is disproportionate. Our review of the sentences imposed in similar cases in Georgia reveals that the death sentence imposed in Gissendaner's case, considering both the gravity of her crime and the apparent depravity of her character, is not disproportionate. The cases appearing in the Appendix support this conclusion in that each involved the careful devising of a plan to kill, killing for the purpose of receiving something of monetary value, kidnapping with bodily injury, or causing or directing another to kill.The evidence showed that she repeatedly raised the option of murder in conversations with her co-conspirator and that she planned the murder. She and not her co-conspirator stood primarily to gain financially from the murder. The murder was planned against her close family member. Unlike her co-conspirator, who cooperated with authorities and confessed his guilt, Gissendaner devised a plan to suborn perjury and to do violence against witnesses. We also note that Gissendaner appealed to the jury's sense of justice by making the same argument of proportionality she makes to this Court and that the jury rejected the argument by its verdict. In light of all these circumstances, we conclude that Gissendaner's sentence was not impermissibly disproportionate.
Not surprisingly, this murderer now claims a death row religious conversion, and certain pro-criminal groups have urged this alleged conversion as a reason to ignore the jury and the courts' decisions that her sentence is appropriate and just.
Two things can happen: First, we can credit the "conversion" and commute the death sentence, If we do this, as night follows day, every convicted murderer in the nation will undergo a wondrous conversion experience. And unless we reconstitute the Inquisition to get to the truth of these conversions, we will have simply to credit them and empty every death row. (and why stop with commutation from death to imprisonment? If this is a renewed soul, and therefore it is not just to execute her, then how is it just to impose any penalty?)
The second alternative is that we can privately hope and pray that this person has genuinely converted, but recognize that her personal spiritual state is totally irrelevant to the question of her punishment for the crime she committed. Justice is served, and the Fifth Commandment of the Decalogue vindicated (as St. Thomas and 2,000 years of Christian teaching says) when a murderer, who has arrogated to herself the very role of God by ending another's life, is executed.
It really boils down to whom do we trust to see that justice is served?-- the people of Georgia as embodied in the jury which actually heard the evidence and considered both sides before imposing a sentence, and the appellate courts which closely reviewed the case for any error, bias, or disproportionality of sentence; or the blogger in his basement who while bizzarely and without apparent irony talking about "human sacrifice" can't even be bothered to mention the facts of the case
|His name was Douglas Gissendaner|
To ask the question is to answer it.