Kelly Gissendaner Executed in Georgia After Courts Deny Stay Requests

Kelly Gissendaner was the only woman on Georgia's death row.

— -- Kelly Gissendaner, the only woman on Georgia's death row, was executed early Wednesday, authorities said.

Last-minute appeals had been filed to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals and that state Supreme Court, all of which rejected her motions. In a 5-to-2 decision, the state Supreme Court denied Gissendaner's motion for stay of execution and dismissed her constitutional challenge of her sentence as "disproportionate."

The letter, obtained by ABC News, was signed by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano and addressed to members of the board. It cited the pope's speech to Congress, in which Francis said "every life is sacred," and that "society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes."

The letter asked for a sentence that "would better express both justice and mercy."

"Please be assured of my prayers as you consider this request by Pope Francis for what I believe would be a just act of clemency," the letter said.

Gissendaner was accused of convincing her boyfriend, Gregory Owen, to kill her husband, Douglas Gissendaner, in February 1997.

Owen and Kelly Gissendaner discussed killing Douglas Gissendaner "on four or five occasions, all at [Kelly] Gissendaner's initiation, before reaching a final agreement to kill him," according to Georgia's Attorney General's office.

"It was agreed that, on Feb. 7, 1997, while [Kelly] Gissendaner was out with friends, co-defendant Owen would kill Douglas. The murder went exactly as Gissendaner planned," the office of the Attorney General said.

Owen hit Douglas Gissendaner on the back of the head and then stabbed him in the neck eight to ten times, according to the Attorney General's Office.

Gissendaner was convicted of malice murder in 1998.