Gwinnett Co. D.A. says state 'did the right thing' delaying Giss - CBS46 News

Gwinnett Co. D.A. says state 'did the right thing' delaying Gissendaner execution

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The man who made the decision in 1997 to seek the death penalty against Kelly Gissendaner said the state of Georgia did the right thing Monday night in delaying her execution.

Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter was at the prison in Jackson as a witness.

“I have a policy that if I make a decision to seek the death penalty against someone and they're eventually executed, then I think I have a moral obligation to see the sentence carried out,” Porter said.

Gissendaner was originally scheduled to be executed last week, but the execution was delayed because of bad weather and rescheduled for Monday at 7 p.m. But 7 p.m. came and went. Porter said his understanding is that the delay happened because the state was in litigation.

"There were motions filed in both the 11th Circuit with petitions pending in the United States Supreme Court, so there was a delay because of the litigation," Porter said.

Then, at about 10 p.m., Porter said that Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens announced that the execution would have to be rescheduled again because there was a problem with the drug that was to be used in the lethal injection.

A spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Corrections said the drug, called pentobarbital, appeared cloudy. She said officials called a pharmacist, and then, out of an "abundance of caution," opted to postpone the execution.

 “I think he made the right call," Porter said of the attorney general. "I mean, he had to make a difficult decision as to whether or not to go forward with drugs that were questionable and risk litigation, or delay it and go forward with a new set.”

Porter said the issue of the death penalty in Gissendaner's case could have been resolved in 1997. Before she went to trial accused of arranging the murder of her husband Doug, Porter offered her a deal: plead guilty and avoid the death penalty. Gissendaner turned down the deal, Porter said.

"And we made that clear to the parole board when we talked about clemency," Porter said. "We're here more because of Kelly's choices than because of the state's choices.”

Porter said that a representative of Doug Gissendaner's family was at the prison Monday night to witness the execution. He said the family is frustrated, but not because of the delays.

"They're frustrated because all the focus seems to be on the defendant, and none of it seems to be on the victim," Porter said. "They want to try and keep as much focus as possible on Doug and what a good person he was and what a good man he was.”

The Department of Corrections has not announced a new execution date.

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