McLaughlin was convicted of first-degree murder in 2006, the first known US execution of an openly transgender person who unsuccessfully petitioned the governor for clemency and was put to death by lethal injection.
Missouri’s First Execution Of An Openly Transgender Person In U.S. History
On Tuesday night, for the first time in American history, an openly transgender Amber McLaughlin, 49 was executed and died by lethal injection in Bonne Terre, Missouri shortly before 7 p.m. local time.
She was found guilty in 2006 of raping and murdering Beverly Guenther, an ex-girlfriend, The crime occurred years before McLaughlin transitioned. On Tuesday, Republican, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, rejected McLaughlin’s last-ditch plea for clemency. “I am sorry for what I did. I am a loving and caring person,” McLaughlin said in her final statement.
The Incident Of The Crime
In 2002, McLaughlin and Guenther had a short-lived romantic relationship, after they separated, Guenther filed a restraining order against McLaughlin in October 2003. McLaughlin was known to stalk Guenther’s office in suburban St. Louis, and police occasionally accompany Guenther to her car. However, on November 20, 2003, Guenther’s neighbors informed the police that she hadn’t returned home. Outside Guenther’s office building investigators found a trail of blood and a broken knife handle near her car.
McLaughlin directed police to the place near the Mississippi River where Guenther’s remains had been dumped. McLaughlin raped Guenther and fatally stabbed her with a steak knife which caused her death. In 2006, McLaughlin was charged with first-degree murder, but a jury deadlocked on the sentence and the judge solely imposed the death penalty.
McLaughlin stated transitioning around 2019, according to transgender inmate Jessica Hicklin. In pleas for clemency, McLaughlin’s lawyers argued that their client is a product of an abused child, including by a foster caregiver who traumatized the child with a taser. McLaughlin’s transgender identity did not significantly factor into the pleas, though attorneys mentioned that she suffered from gender dysphoria.
A federal judge in 2016 vacated McLaughlin’s death sentence due to ineffective counsel, court records show, citing her trial attorney’s inability to provide that expert testimony. That ruling, however, was eventually overruled by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Komp told CNN, regarding McLaughlin’s execution that it “would highlight all the inadequacies of the legal system and would be a huge injustice on multiple levels.”
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