BONNE TERRE, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Corrections carried out its execution of Amber McLaughlin on Tuesday evening. She was the first openly transgender inmate to be put to death by the state.
The execution took place at 6:39 PM at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre, Missouri. McLaughlin, 49, died by lethal injection. She was pronounced dead at 6:51 p.m
On January 1, 2023, McLaughlin sent his final statement to the DOC: “I’m sorry for what I did. I’m a caring and loving person.”
McLaughlin was sentenced to death on November 3, 2006 for the murder of ex-girlfriend Beverly Guenther. During the 2005 trial, prosecutors said McLaughlin, then known as Scott, harassed Guenter, kidnapped her as she left work and stabbed her to death.
McLaughlin was convicted of rape and murder in 2005. However, juries in St. Louis did not reach a unanimous consensus on the death penalty. The presiding judge finally decided on the death penalty.
Gov. Mike Parson released a statement after the execution, choosing to use McLaughlin’s dead name:
Today, the State of Missouri executed Scott McLaughlin’s sentence as ordered by the Missouri Supreme Court. McLaughlin was convicted and sentenced to death for the brutal 2003 rape and murder of Beverly Guenther. McLaughlin terrorized Ms. Guenther in the last years of her life, but hopefully her family and loved ones will finally have some peace.
Governor Mike Parson
Parson rejected McLaughlin’s request for leniency, which cited McLaughlin’s traumatic childhood and mental health issues, which the jury never heard during his trial. According to the petition, a foster father rubbed feces on his face when McLaughlin was a toddler and his foster father used a stun gun on him. He cited severe depression that led to 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 distress and other symptoms as a result of a disparity between a person’s gender identity and the sex assigned at birth. But McLaughlin’s sexual identity “was not the primary focus” of the clemency request, said his attorney, Larry Komp.
McLaughlin began the transition about three years ago at Potosí State Prison. But, according to Komp, McLaughlin never received hormone treatments.
McLaughlin is only the second woman to be murdered in Missouri. The first, Bonnie Heady, was executed on December 18, 1953 for the kidnapping and murder of 6-year-old Bobby Greenlease.
The Missouri Department of Corrections plans to execute another inmate, Leonard Taylor, on February 7. Taylor was convicted of the November 2004 murders of his girlfriend and her three young children.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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