The first openly transgender person is executed for murder in 2003 in Missouri.


Image source: Amber McLaughlin

Amber McLaughlin was executed on Tuesday in Missouri for a 2003 murder:

Amber McLaughlin, who was convicted of a murder in 2003 and unsuccessfully petitioned the governor for clemency, was executed by lethal injection in Missouri on Tuesday, marking the first openly transgender person to be put to death in the United States. According to a written statement from the Missouri Department of Corrections, McLaughlin was pronounced deceased at 6:51 pm.

McLaughlin expressed regret in her last statement, which the department of prisons made public. I am a kind and compassionate individual.

The execution of McLaughlin, the first this year in the US, is remarkable because it is already uncommon for women to be put to death in this country. According to the Death Sentence Information Center, just 17 people have been executed prior to McLaughlin’s execution since 1976, when the US Supreme Court restored the death penalty after a brief hiatus. The non-profit organization verified McLaughlin’s status as the country’s first openly transgender death row inmate 49-year-old McLaughlin and her legal team had petitioned Republican Governor Mike Parson for clemency, pleading with him to commute her death sentence. They assert that McLaughlin has demonstrated real remorse, has battled an intellectual handicap, mental health problems, and a history of childhood trauma, aside from the fact that a jury could not agree on the death penalty However, Parson’s office said in a statement on Tuesday that the execution would go according to schedule. The statement read that Beverly Guenther’s family and loved ones “deserve peace.”

The State of Missouri will execute McLaughlin’s sentence in accordance with the Court’s directive, according to Parson. According to McLaughlin’s federal public defender Larry Komp and the governor’s office, McLaughlin, who is listed as Scott McLaughlin in court documents, had not requested a legal name change or transition and was being held at the Potosi Correctional Center near St. Louis, which housed male inmates, because he was on death row.

McLaughlin had been found guilty of rape and murder.

According to court documents, McLaughlin was given the death penalty for the murder of Guenther in November 2003 Prior to the death, the two had been dating; however, they had since broken up, and Guenther had an order of protection against McLaughlin after she was detained for breaking into Guenther’s house.

A few weeks later, when the injunction was still in force, according to court documents, McLaughlin waited for Guenther outside the victim’s place of business. Blood splatters in the parking lot and in Guenther’s truck were used as evidence by the prosecution throughout the trial that McLaughlin repeatedly stabbed and sexually assaulted Guenther According to court records, a jury found McLaughlin guilty of first-degree murder, forcible rape, and armed criminal action. However, the jury couldn’t agree on a sentence. Missouri does not need a jury to unanimously vote to recommend or inflict the capital penalty, unlike the majority of US states that do. State law stipulates that when a jury cannot reach a verdict on the death sentence, the judge must choose between the death penalty and life in prison without the possibility of parole. The death penalty was imposed by McLaughlin’s trial judge.

McLaughlin’s counsel contended that if Parson had granted mercy, he wouldn’t have violated the verdict of the jury because the panel was unable to reach a consensus on a death penalty. However, the petition delivered to the governor stated that Parson should pardon McLaughlin on a number of other grounds in addition to that. In addition to the fact that the jury was divided, McLaughlin’s counsel emphasized that she had a history of childhood trauma and mental health issues. According to the petition, McLaughlin has been “universally diagnosed with brain damage as well as fetal alcohol syndrome” and has “consistently been labeled with borderline intellectual disability

According to the petition, McLaughlin was “abandoned” by her mother and put into the foster care system. In one placement, she allegedly had “feces forced into her face.” The petition claimed that she then endured additional trauma and abuse, including being tased by her adoptive father, and battled despair that resulted in “several suicide attempts.” the petition claimed that McLaughlin’s jury was not presented with expert testimony regarding her mental state at the time of Guenther’s murder. That testimony, according to her attorneys, could have tipped the balance in favor of a life sentence by bolstering the defense’s list of mitigating circumstances and refuting the prosecution’s assertion that McLaughlin acted with depravity of mind, that her deeds were particularly heinous or “wantonly vile,” which was the only aggravating circumstance the jury discovered.

According to court records, a federal judge overturned McLaughlin’s death sentence in 2016 owing to ineffective representation, citing her trial attorneys’ inability to offer that expert testimony. But the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals later overruled that decision. Her attorney, Komp, previously told CNN that McLaughlin’s execution “would highlight all the inadequacies of the justice system and would be a grave injustice on a number of levels.” According to Komp, “it would keep up the systemic failures that existed throughout Amber’s childhood where no interventions occurred to stop and intercede to safeguard her as a child and teen.” “Everything that could go wrong did for her.”

Amber McLaughlin, the first openly transgender person executed in the US, is put to death in Missouri.

The first openly transgender person to be killed in the United States on Tuesday was a female prisoner inmate from Missouri who died by lethal injection. When Missouri Governor Mike Parson rejected a clemency request earlier on Tuesday, Amber McLaughlin’s destiny was already decided. As the pentobarbital dose that would cause her death was administered, McLaughlin whispered softly to a spiritual advisor by her side.

McLaughlin took several deep breaths before closing her eyes. She was declared deceased a short while afterwards. In a last written statement, McLaughlin expressed his regret for what he had done. I consider myself to be loving and caring. Amber McLaughlin: who is she? McLaughlin, 49, was found guilty of murdering Beverly Guenther, 45, on November 20, 2003. In St. Louis County, Guenther, McLaughlin’s ex-girlfriend, was raped and fatally stabbed. In 2006, a judge executed McLaughlin for the murder when a jury couldn’t agree on the verdict.

The gender situation in general Since the death penalty was restored in the United States in the 1970s, McLaughlin was one of the few women who had been given a planned execution date. 50 of the 2,414 persons who were scheduled for execution as of April 1, 2022, according to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, were women. The anti-execution Death Penalty Information Center states that it is not known of any prior instances in which a person who identified as openly transgender was executed.

There are “some genuine concerns here,” since several states have recently failed to administer lethal injections

a clemency plea mentions mental health issues and a terrible childhood
McLaughlin’s counsel asked Parson for clemency on December 12 and asked that a life sentence without the possibility of parole be substituted for a death sentence. The petition for clemency lists chronic trauma McLaughlin endured as a child, including brain damage from exposure to fetal alcohol, traumatic brain injuries as a child, abuse she experienced, including being tased and beaten, at her adoptive home, as well as her diagnosed depression and suicide attempts The petition claims that McLaughlin’s initial trial in 2006 did not include information on her mental health or childhood maltreatment. The State of Missouri will execute the death penalty sentence, according to Parson, who referred to McLaughlin by her name and gender identity prior to her change.” the family and loved ones of Ms. Guenther deserve peace,” Parson added. The State of Missouri will execute McLaughlin’s sentence in accordance with the court’s directive and uphold the rule of law.

The Death Penalty Information Center reports that five executions have occurred in Missouri since Parson took office in June 2018 as a result of his refusal to grant clemency in each instance. Death penalty: The Oregon governor will commute the death sentences of all 17 inmates to life in prison without the possibility of parole

Details on the case of Amber McLaughlin
After the pair split up, McLaughlin started stalking Guenther at her St. Louis place of business, occasionally hiding inside the premises, according to court documents. Guenther as a result got a restraining order. Guenther’s neighbors alerted the police on November 20, 2003 when she didn’t come home. When they arrived, they found a broken knife handle and a blood trail close to her car at the office building. The following day, McLaughlin directed police to the location of Guenther’s body’s disposal According to McLaughlin’s mentor and former inmate Jessica Hicklin, who is transgender, McLaughlin started transitioning roughly three years ago. Despite the jury’s divided verdict, McLaughlin’s supporters worried that he would still be executed. The Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty group backed an online petition for clemency that branded the ruling a “gross abuse of judicial power.” The petition stated that “they weren’t satisfied that Amber deserved the most severe sentence the legal system can deliver.” However, the trial judge was allowed to override the deadlocked jury and impose a death sentence for Amber due to a legal gap in Missouri.

According to Jessica Hicklin, a friend and fellow prisoner, McLaughlin started her transition there around three years ago. In 2018, Hicklin prevailed in a legal battle with the Missouri Corrections Department over a rule that forbade hormone therapy for prisoners who hadn’t been receiving it prior to being imprisoned Prior to McLaughlin’s change, Hicklin claimed she seldom ever spoke to the shy inmate, portraying McLaughlin as a loner. The two continued to talk as Hicklin gave advice on how to submit papers for appropriate care and access to mental health therapy as well as tips on being safe within the prison. A vulnerable person, according to Hicklin. Definitely frightened of being attacked or assaulted, which happens more frequently to transgender people in the Department of Corrections.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there are 3,200 transgender detainees in jails and prisons across the country. The story of Chelsea Manning, a former Army intelligence analyst who served seven years in federal prison for leaking government documents to Wikileaks before President Barack Obama commuted the sentence in 2017, is perhaps the most well-known example of a transgender prisoner seeking treatment. 2015 saw the Army’s agreement to cover Manning’s hormone therapy No matter when the diagnosis was made, state prison officials must treat an inmate’s gender identity disorder the same way they would treat other physical or mental health issues, according to a 2015 court filing by the U.S. Department of Justice. Bonnie B. Heady was the only woman ever put to death in Missouri; she was executed on December 18, 1953, for the kidnapping and murder of a 6-year-old boy. Carl Austin Hall, the other kidnapping and murderer, was executed in the same gas chamber as Heady.

In 2022, 18 individuals were put to death nationwide, including 2 in Missouri. In November, Kevin Johnson was executed for the ambush murder of a Kirkwood, Missouri, police officer. For killing James and Zelma Long during a robbery at their De Soto, Missouri, home, Carman Deck was put to death in May. Leonard Taylor, a second prisoner from Missouri, is due to pass away on February 7 after killing his fiancée and her three young children.

The two emphasized the “moral depravity” of the death penalty while asserting that the judge made an arbitrary judgment They are about who has institutional authority and who doesn’t, not about justice. In the letter, Bush and Cleaver urged the president to use all of his or her powers, including the ability to give clemency, to address the injustices Since the US Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, Ms. McLaughlin’s cruel execution would mark the state’s first application of the death penalty to a woman. What’s worse, it wouldn’t address any of the systemic issues that Missourians and Americans in general face, such as anti-LGBTQ+ hate and violence and cycles of violence that target and harm women. It would just obliterate another.