Amber McLaughlin becomes the first transgender to be executed in the United States for a 2003 murder.
The 49 tear transgender was pronounced dead shortly before 7 p.m. local time on Tuesday at the Diagnostic and Correctional Center in the town of Bonne Terre, Missouri, according to a statement from the State Prison Department. McLaughlinwas put to death by lethal injection
McLaughlin is the first transgender person of either sex to be executed in the country, and also the first person to be executed this year in the US. She was convicted of murdering a former girlfriend – Beverly Guenther – in 2003 in a suburb of St. Louis.
McLaughlin was in a relationship with Beverly Guenther. After they stopped dating, McLaughlin would show up at the suburban St. Louis office where the 45-year-old Guenther worked, sometimes hiding inside the building, according to court records. Guenther was raped and stabbed to death with a kitchen knife. Her body was dumped near the Mississippi river.
In 2006 a jury found McLaughlin guilty of murder but was deadlocked on what her punishment should be. The trial judge stepped in and imposed the death penalty. Such intervention is allowed in Missouri as well as in Indiana. Citing the fact that a jury did not sentence McLaughlin to death, her lawyers asked Governor Mike Parson to commute her sentence to life in prison.
In the clemency petition, her lawyers pointed out McLaughlin’s traumatic childhood and mental health issues. The petition said that a foster parent rubbed feces in her face when she was a toddler and her adoptive father used a stun gun on her. It cited severe depression that resulted in multiple suicide attempts, both as a child and as an adult.
The petition also included reports citing a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, a condition that causes anguish and other symptoms as a result of a disparity between a person’s gender identity and their assigned sex at birth. But McLaughlin’s sexual identity was “not the main focus” of the clemency request, her attorney, Larry Komp, said.
The issue drew much attention in recent months, with the supreme court of Ohio upholding a death sentence against a transgender woman and Oregon State commuting one.