Missouri carries out first known execution of an openly transgender person for 2003 murder
“McLaughlin was pronounced deceased at 6:51 p.m.,” according to a written statement from the Missouri Department of Corrections.
“I am sorry for what I did,” McLaughlin wrote in her last statement, which the department of prisons released. “I am a loving and caring individual.”
McLaughlin’s death, the first in the United States this year, is unusual: executions of women are already uncommon in the United States. According to the Death Sentence Information Center, just 17 people had been executed since 1976, when the US Supreme Court reintroduced the death penalty after a brief hiatus. McLaughlin is the first openly transgender person to be executed in the United States, according to the non-profit organization.
Also read: Madison McLaughlin
McLaughlin, 49, and her attorneys had petitioned Republican Gov. Mike Parson for clemency, requesting that her death sentence be commuted. They claim that, aside from the fact that a jury could not agree on the death penalty, McLaughlin has exhibited real remorse and has struggled with an intellectual handicap, mental health concerns, and a history of childhood trauma.
However, Parson’s office declared Tuesday that the execution would go ahead as planned. Beverly Guenther’s family and loved ones “deserve peace,” according to the statement.
“The State of Missouri will carry out McLaughlin’s punishment in accordance with the Court’s order and deliver justice,” Parson said.
According to McLaughlin’s federal public defender Larry Komp and the governor’s office, McLaughlin – listed in court documents as Scott McLaughlin – had not initiated a legal name change or transition and, as a death-sentenced person, was kept at Potosi Correctional Center near St. Louis, which housed male inmates.
McLaughlin had been convicted of murder and rape | Missouri Case
According to court records, McLaughlin was condemned to death for Guenther’s murder in November 2003.
They had previously been in a relationship, but had broken up by the time of the murder, and Guenther had obtained an order of protection against McLaughlin when she was arrested for burglarizing Guenther’s home.
According to court papers, McLaughlin waited for Guenther outside the victim’s workplace several weeks later, while the injunction was still in effect. Prosecutors contended at trial that McLaughlin repeatedly stabbed and raped Guenther, citing blood spatters in the parking lot and in Guenther’s truck.
According to court records, McLaughlin was convicted of first-degree murder, forcible rape, and armed criminal action by a jury.
However, when it came to sentencing, the jury was tied. | Amber McLaughlin
Most states that have the capital penalty require a unanimous majority of a jury to recommend or impose the death penalty, but Missouri does not.
When a jury cannot agree on the death penalty, the judge must choose between life in prison without the possibility of parole or death. McLaughlin’s trial judge sentenced him to death.
A transgender death row convict who is scheduled to be executed in January petitions Missouri’s governor for clemency.
Amber McLaughlin’s defenders contended that if Parson granted mercy, he would not have subverted the will of the jury because the panel could not agree on a capital sentence.
According to the petition given to the governor, that was just one of several grounds on which McLaughlin’s attorneys believed Parson should grant her pardon.
In addition to her jury’s deadlock, Amber McLaughlin’s defense cited her issues with mental health and a history of childhood trauma. McLaughlin has been “consistently diagnosed with borderline intellectual disability,” as well as “universally diagnosed with brain damage and fetal alcohol syndrome,” according to the appeal.
According to the petition, Amber McLaughlin was “abandoned” by her mother and placed in the foster care system, where she had “feces forced into her face” in one placement.
According to the petition, she then suffered more violence and trauma, including being tased by her adoptive father, and battled depression, which led to “several suicide attempts.”
As per the appeal, McLaughlin’s jury did not hear expert testimony about her mental state at the time of Guenther’s murder. That testimony, according to her attorneys, could have tipped the scales in favor of a life sentence by supporting the mitigating factors cited by the defense and refuting the prosecution’s claim McLaughlin acted with depravity of mind – that her actions were particularly brutal or “wantonly vile” – the only aggravating factor found by the jury.
According to court records, a federal judge reversed McLaughlin’s death sentence in 2016 owing to ineffective counsel, citing her trial attorneys’ inability to offer that expert testimony. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals later overturned the decision.
Execution of Amber McLaughlin “would highlight all of the inadequacies in the justice system and would be a grave injustice on multiple levels,” her attorney, Komp, previously told CNN.
“It would perpetuate the systemic failings that existed throughout Amber’s life, where no interventions were made to stop and intervene to protect her as a child and teen,” Komp said. “Everything that could go wrong for her did.”