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Scott "Amber" McLauchlin.

Missouri carries out first execution of transgender criminal

Missouri on Tuesday evening followed through with the execution of an individual identifying as a woman.

Scott “Amber” McLaughlin, 49, a biological male who identified as a woman while in prison, was executed by lethal injection Tuesday evening after being found guilty of the brutal 2003 killing of his girlfriend in 2003. McLaughlin was tried as Scott McLaughlin and did not transition until after being sentenced to prison.

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McLauchlin’s mugshot.

McLaughlin’s fate was sealed earlier on Tuesday when Republican Governor Mike Parson declined a clemency request. The Death Penalty Information Center said there is no known case of a transgender inmate being executed in the United States.

McLaughlin was convicted of first-degree murder in 2006 and sentenced to death after a jury deadlocked on the sentence. In 2016, a court ordered a new sentencing hearing, but in 2021, the federal appeals court panel reinstated the death penalty. With no appeals pending, McLaughlin’s attorney, Larry Komp, said clemency is being sought. The request for clemency does not focus primarily on McLaughlin’s gender identity but instead on traumatic childhood and mental health issues that were never presented to a jury during trial.

When it comes to McLaughlin’s gender identity, the petition addresses a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, which is a condition of confusion of one’s gender.

Some accused McLaughlin of using the transgender issue in an attempt to avoid execution.

In 2003, long before transitioning, McLaughlin was in a relationship with Beverly Guenther. After they stopped

Beverly Guenther was stalked and murdered by Scott “Amber” McLauchlin.

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 obtained a restraining order and police officers occasionally escorted her to her car after work.

Guenther’s neighbors called police the night of November 20, 2003, when she failed to return home. Officers went to the office building, where they found a broken knife handle near her car and a trail of blood.

A day later, McLaughlin led police to a location near the Mississippi River in St Louis, where the body had been dumped. Authorities said she had been raped and stabbed repeatedly with a steak knife.

U.S. House of Representative members Cori Bush and Emanuel Cleaver, who urged Parson to grant clemency, claimed it was the first execution of a “woman” in Missouri since the death penalty was reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court. Before 1976, the only woman ever executed in the state was Bonnie B. Heady. She was executed in a gas chamber on Dec. 18, 1953, for kidnapping and killing a 6-year-old boy.

McLaughlin’s lawyers during clemency hearing drew the ire of people in the transgender movement when they claimed gender dysphoria should be taken into consideration for the clemency.

–Alan Goforth | MV

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