Missouri could become the first state to execute a transgender woman
Missouri could be the first state to execute a transgender woman in the United States, unless the state governor grants clemency, according to reports.
Amber McLaughlin, 49, is a transgender woman and is due to be executed by lethal injection on Tuesday after being convicted of the 2003 murder of a former girlfriend.
McLaughlin was tried as Scott McLaughlin and only transitioned after being sentenced to prison.
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The Associated Press reported that McLaughlin was in a relationship with Beverly Guenther, 45, before the transition and sometimes showed up at an office in St. Louis where Guenther worked.
At times, McLaughlin hid inside the building, according to court records, which resulted in Guenther being granted a restraining order.
Police sometimes escorted Guenther to his vehicle after work.
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On the night of Nov. 20, 2003, Guenther’s neighbors called police after she failed to return home, AP reported.
Officers went to the office where Guenther worked and found a broken knife handle near his car and a trail of blood. The next day, McLaughlin showed police where Guenther’s body had been dumped in the Mississippi River.
McLaughlin was ultimately convicted of first-degree murder in 2006 and sentenced to death after a jury deadlocked on sentencing, AP reported. In 2016, a court ordered a new sentencing hearing, but in 2021 the federal appeals court formation reinstated the death penalty.
With no appeals pending, McLaughlin’s attorney, Larry Komp, told AP that leniency was sought.
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The clemency petition does not focus primarily on McLaughlin’s gender identity, but rather on traumatic childhood and mental health issues that were never presented to a jury during the trial.
AP reported that the clemency petition claims that when McLaughlin was with an adoptive parent as a toddler, that person rubbed feces on their face. Another time, her adoptive father used a stun gun on her, according to the petition.
The petition also claims that McLaughlin suffers from depression and has attempted suicide on several occasions.
With respect to McLaughlin’s gender identity, the petition relates to a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, which is a condition that can cause anguish and more due to a person struggling between their assigned sex to birth and her gender identity, AP reported.
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“We think Amber showed incredible courage because I can tell you there’s a lot of hate about it,” Komp told AP Monday. But he added that this was not the subject of the leniency request.
Missouri Governor Mike Parson is considering the clemency petition, which a spokesperson for the governor said is still pending.
The Death Penalty Information Center, according to AP, said there were no known cases of a transgender inmate being executed in the United States.
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It is also the first state use of the death penalty against a woman since the US Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976, according to members of the US House of Representatives. , Cori Bush and Emanuel Cleaver, who urged Parson to grant clemency.
Before 1976, the only woman ever executed in the state was Bonnie B. Heady, AP said. She was executed in a gas chamber on December 18, 1953 for abducting and killing a 6-year-old boy.