A 49-year-old transgender woman will become the first to be executed in the United States if her last-minute appeal fails. Amber McLaughlin, 49, was convicted in 2006 of raping and killing her girlfriend, 45-year-old Beverly Guenther, three years earlier in Missouri. She received the death sentence and has been on death row ever since. However, she’s hoping a reprieve will come through.
- The jury was deadlocked on her sentence. However, the judge ultimately condemned Amber McLaughlin to death. While a new sentencing hearing was ordered in 2016, the death penalty was ultimately reinstated and her execution date set for January 3, 2023. She will be given a lethal injection to end her life when the time comes.
- Her legal team applied for a last-minute reprieve with Missouri Governor Mike Parson’s office. The petition for clemency claimed that McLaughlin’s abusive childhood caused her to have trauma and mental health issues that ultimately led to her heinous crime. “Amber McLaughlin never had a chance,” her attorney Larry Komp writes. “She was failed by the institutions, individuals, and interventions that should have protected her, and her abusers obstructed the care she so desperately needed.” The document also claimed Amber McLaughlin had experienced fetal alcohol exposure, abandonment by her parents, and serious abuse by her foster father.
- Her attorney also claims she has “genuine remorse” for her actions. Komp says in the document that McLaughlin has attempted suicide multiple times since childhood and that her experiences led to cognitive impairments that have affected her daily life. However, she does feel “genuine remorse” for her crime.
- If she’s put to death, McLaughlin will be the first openly transgender woman to be executed in prison in the U.S. Her lawyer insists that her transition, which began in 2018, has nothing to do with her clemency appeal, but that he hopes this doesn’t happen. “It’s wrong when anyone’s executed regardless, but I hope that this is a first that doesn’t occur,” Komp said. “Amber has shown great courage in embracing who she is as a transgender woman in spite of the potential for people reacting with hate, so I admire her display of courage.”
Kelli Jones, a spokesperson for Governor Parson, tells AP News that the request is currently being reviewed.