Georgia executes a woman for the first time in 70 years
Death row inmate Kelly Renee Gissendaner is seen in an undated picture from the Georgia Department of Corrections. REUTERS/Georgia Department of Corrections/Handout via Reuters

Georgia executed the only woman on the state's death row early on Wednesday, marking the first time in 70 years the state has carried out a death sentence on a woman, a television station reported.


Kelly Gissendaner, 47, died by injection at 12:21 a.m. EDT at a prison in Jackson, Georgia, the Atlanta television station WSB-TV reported on its website.

Gissendaner was sentenced to death for her role in plotting her husband's murder in 1997.

Pope Francis, who concluded a six-day U.S. trip on Sunday and is an outspoken opponent of the death penalty, had urged officials to commute her death sentence.

Gissendaner's execution marks the first death sentence carried out against a woman in Georgia in 70 years. She was the 16th woman executed in the United States since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

The state's Board of Pardons and Paroles met on Tuesday to decide whether its refusal earlier this year to commute Gissendaner's sentence to life in prison should stand.

Board members were not swayed by the inmate's latest appeal for clemency, which emphasized her model behavior in prison and remorse for plotting her husband's murder in 1997.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday denied last-minute requests for a stay of execution from the lawyers for Gissendaner.

(Reporting by David Beasley; Writing by Letitia Stein and Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Nick Macfie)