Before Kelly Gissendaner, the last woman Georgia executed was falsely convicted and black

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Just after midnight on Wednesday, the state of Georgia executed Kelly Renee Gissendaner by injection of pentobarbital. She was the first woman to be executed by the state in 70 years.


Gissendaner, 47 at the time of her death, was convicted of conspiring with her lover, Gregory Owen, to murder her husband. Details, like the fact that she did not participate in the fatal stabbing itself, resulted in a highly contested sentence, with everyone from her children to Pope Francis calling for clemency.

The 1945 execution of Lena Baker, the last woman to be executed by the state of Georgia, was also contested—though not until decades after her death.


Baker, who was black and a maid, was accused of killing her white employer, a man named E.B. Knight. She testified that she had acted in self-defense, claiming that Knight had held her against her will and threatened her with physical and sexual violence.

After a brief, one-day trial, Baker was convicted and sentenced to death by an all-white, all-male jury. The state executed her in March 1945, and to this day, she remains the only woman in Georgia history to have ever received the electric chair.

Baker was pardoned by the state in 2005 thanks to the efforts of her grandnephew, Roosevelt Curry, and John Cole Vodicka of the Prison and Jail Project. Scheree Lipscomb, a board spokeswoman for Georgia's Board of Pardons and Paroles, called the woman's death sentence "a grievous error," adding that "[Baker's] case called out for mercy."

At least as many as 106 individuals have been posthumously pardoned in the United States, according to a Death Penalty Information Center study. Twelve of those people—like Lena Baker—died by execution.


Bad at filling out bios seeks same.

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