By Trevor Schakohl
Missouri put convicted murderer Amber McLaughlin to death Tuesday, becoming the first state to execute an openly transgender person, according to multiple reports.
McLaughlin was found guilty in 2006 of murdering ex-girlfriend Beverly Guenther three years earlier after she got a restraining order against McLaughlin, The Associated Press reported. A jury also convicted McLaughlin of forcible rape and armed criminal action, and the Death Penalty Information Center said McLaughlin would be the first openly transgender person executed nationwide.
McLaughlin began gender transition about three years ago, according to a former inmate Jessica Hicklin, who successfully sued the Missouri Department of Corrections over a policy preventing hormone therapy for inmates who had not received it before incarceration, the AP reported. A jury did not unanimously agree to a death sentence for McLaughlin, prompting a judge to order one.
Only state judges in Missouri and Indiana can impose death sentences instead of a jury, McLaughlin attorney Larry Komp told the AP.
Republican Missouri Gov. Mike Parson had said Tuesday before McLaughlin’s execution that he would not prevent it, despite a petition from Komp requesting clemency and reporting that McLaughlin suffered childhood trauma and mental health issues never revealed to the jury at trial, the outlet reported. Komp denied that his client’s sexual identity was the clemency request’s “main focus” and said McLaughin had not had hormone treatments.
“McLaughlin’s conviction and sentence remains after multiple, thorough examinations of Missouri law. McLaughlin stalked, raped, and murdered Ms. Guenther,” Parson stated, according to the AP. “Ms. Guenther’s family and loved ones deserve peace.”
Democratic Oregon Gov. Kate Brown commuted the capital sentences of transgender double murderer Tara Ellyssia Zyst and every other death row inmate in her state in December, reducing them to life in prison without the possibility of parole.