Amber McLaughlin, who was convicted of murder in 2003 and tried to get clemency from the governor but was denied, was put to death by lethal injection in Missouri on Tuesday. She was the first openly transgender person in the US to be put to death.
The Missouri Department of Corrections said in a written statement that McLaughlin was found dead at 6:51 p.m. In her final statement, which was released by the department of corrections, McLaughlin said, “I am sorry for what I did.” “I am a loving & caring person.”
The execution of McLaughlin, which is the first in the US this year, is unusual. In the US, women are rarely put to death, so this is not a big deal.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, only 17 people had been put to death since 1976, when the US Supreme Court brought back the death penalty after a short break.
The non-profit group confirmed that McLaughlin was the first openly transgender person to be put to death in the U.S. McLaughlin, who was 49 at the time, and her lawyers had asked Republican Gov. Mike Parson for clemency, asking him to change her death sentence to life in prison.
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People say that even though a jury couldn’t agree on the death penalty, McLaughlin has shown real regret and has struggled with an intellectual disability, mental health problems, and a history of childhood trauma.
But Parson’s office said in a statement on Tuesday that the execution would go ahead as planned. The statement said that the family and friends of the woman she killed, Beverly Guenther, “deserve peace.”
“The State of Missouri will carry out McLaughlin’s sentence according to the Court’s order,” Parson said, “and deliver justice.” In court documents, McLaughlin is called Scott McLaughlin.
He had not legally changed his name or gender, and as a death-sentenced person, he was kept at Potosi Correctional Center near St. Louis, which housed male inmates, according to McLaughlin’s federal public defender Larry Komp and the governor’s office.
McLaughlin’s criminal record included convictions for both murder and rape
Court records show that McLaughlin was given the death sentence for killing Guenther in November 2003. They used to be together, but by the time of the murder, they were no longer together.
Guenther had gotten an order of protection against McLaughlin after she was arrested for breaking into Guenther’s house. Court records say that a few weeks later, while the order was still in place, McLaughlin waited for Guenther outside of the victim’s workplace.
Prosecutors said at trial that McLaughlin repeatedly stabbed and raped Guenther. They pointed to blood spots in the parking lot and in Guenther’s truck as proof.
The execution of a transgender person may be introduced in the USA. In Missouri, a professor is granted the death penalty for 49-year-old transgender Amber McLaughlin on January 3rd. pic.twitter.com/gDoJU06HMx
— Животный мир (@dragon_of_time_) January 4, 2023
Court records show that a jury found McLaughlin guilty of first-degree murder, rape by force, and armed robbery. But when it came to giving a sentence, the jury couldn’t agree on anything.
Most states in the US that have the death penalty need a unanimous vote from a jury to recommend or carry out the death penalty, but Missouri does not.
State law says that if a jury can’t agree on the death penalty, it’s up to the judge to decide between life without parole or death. The judge who tried McLaughlin gave him the death penalty.
McLaughlin’s lawyers said that if Parson granted clemency, he would not have gone against the will of the jury because the jury could not agree on a death sentence.
In the petition sent to the governor, however, McLaughlin’s lawyers gave that as just one of several reasons why Parson should grant her clemency.
In addition to the fact that McLaughlin’s jury was deadlocked, her lawyers brought up her mental health problems and the fact that she had been hurt as a child.
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The petition said that McLaughlin has been “consistently diagnosed with borderline intellectual disability” and “universally diagnosed with both brain damage and foetal alcohol syndrome.”
McLaughlin’s mother “abandoned” her, and she was put into the foster care system. In one placement, “feces were shoved into her face,” according to the petition.
The petition said that she later went through more abuse and trauma, including being tased by her adoptive father, and that she was depressed and made “multiple suicide attempts.”
The petition said that at McLaughlin’s trial, the jury did not hear from any experts about how she was feeling when she killed Guenther.
Gov. Parson’s Office says nothing has changed at this time on a request to block today’s scheduled execution. Missouri is scheduled to put to death the first known openly transgender prisoner in U.S. history. Amber McLaughlin has asked the gov to spare her life. #mogov #moleg
— Alisa Nelson (@alisagbrnelson) January 3, 2023
Her lawyers said that testimony could have tipped the scales in favour of a life sentence because it would have supported the mitigating factors brought up by the defence and disproved the prosecution’s claim that McLaughlin acted with a depraved mind, which was the only thing the jury found to be an aggravating factor.
Court records show that in 2016, a federal judge overturned McLaughlin’s death sentence because her trial lawyers didn’t present that expert testimony. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals later ruled that this decision was wrong.
McLaughlin’s execution “would highlight all the flaws of the justice system and would be a great injustice on a number of levels,” Komp, her attorney, told CNN previously.
“It would continue the systemic failures that existed throughout Amber’s life where no interventions occurred to stop and intercede to protect her as a child and teen,” Komp said. “All that could go wrong did go wrong for her.”
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