Amber McLaughlin, 49, the first transgender woman to be executed in the U.S. will get the lethal injection today for killing a former girlfriend in 2003.
McLaughlin was convicted of first-degree murder in 2006 and sentenced to death after a jury stalemated on the sentence. A court in 2016 ordered a new sentencing hearing, but a federal appeals court panel restored the death penalty in 2021.
According to the anti-execution Death Penalty Information Center, there is no known case of a transgender inmate being executed in the U.S. before.
The only woman ever executed in Missouri was Bonnie B. Heady, put to death on Dec. 18, 1953, for kidnapping and killing a 6-year-old boy. Heady was executed in the gas chamber, side by side with the other kidnapper and killer, Carl Austin Hall.
McLaughlin Request for clemency
In December of last year, McLaughlin’s lawyers asked Republican Gov. Mike Parson to spare her.
The clemency request centers on many issues, including McLaughlin’s distressing childhood and mental health concerns, which the jury never heard in her trial. There was the story of a foster parent who rubbed feces on her face when she was an infant and an adoptive father who used a stun gun on her. These were stated in the clemency petition including that of Amber suffering from depression and attempted suicide many times.
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.
“We think Amber has demonstrated incredible courage because I can tell you there’s a lot of hate when it comes to that issue,” her attorney, Larry Komp, said.
“McLaughlin’s sexual identity is ‘not the main focus’ of the clemency request,” the lawyer added.
Unless Gov. Parson grants clemency, Amber McLaughlin will get the lethal injection today Tuesday, January 3, 2023.
It will be Missouri’s first execution of a transgender woman.