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Who is Amber McLaughlin, the first transgender woman the US hopes to execute, and what did she do?


Missouri will administer a lethal injection to 49-year-old Amber McLaughlin on Tuesday unless the governor grants a request for leniency. The execution would be the first against a transgender woman in the country.

By Jim Salter -

The Associated Press

Unless Missouri Gov. Mike Parson grants a last-minute pardon, Amber McLaughlin, 49, will become the first transgender woman to be executed in the United States on Tuesday.

McLaughlin's attorney, Larry Komp, said his client no longer has any further court appeals pending.

McLaughlin is expected to receive a lethal injection

for the murder of her ex-girlfriend in 2003.

McLaughlin has argued that there are a number of reasons for a clemency request to be granted, including having suffered a traumatic childhood and mental health problems, things the jury did not hear about during the trial against him.

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One of her foster parents rubbed feces in her face when she was a toddler and another shot her with a stun gun, according to the clemency petition.

She suffers from depression and attempted suicide several times, according to the document.

The petition also cites a medical report in which she is diagnosed

with 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 to her at birth. .

“We believe that Amber has shown incredible value because I can tell you that there is a lot of hate when it comes to that issue,” another of her lawyers, Larry Komp, said Monday.

But he clarified that McLaughlin's sexual identity is “not the main reason” for the leniency request.

Amber McLaughlin, the first transgender woman sentenced to death in the United States. Jeremy S. Weis / AP

Parson's spokeswoman, Kelli Jones, said authorities were still reviewing the clemency petition.

historic run

According to the Information Center against the Death Penalty, a non-governmental organization,

there is no record of executions of a transgender person.

A friend of McLaughlin's in prison said her personality blossomed during her gender transition.

Prior to his transition, McLaughlin was in a relationship with Beverly Guenther.

During his courtship with Guenther, 45, McLaughlin would show up at her suburban St. Louis office without telling her and even hide inside the building, according to court records.

Guenther obtained a restraining order against her and police officers sometimes escorted her to her car after her work.

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On the night of November 20, 2003, the neighbors called the police to notify her that she had not returned home from work.

Officers went looking for her at her office and

found a knife handle

near her car, along with a trail of blood.

A day later, Ella McLaughlin led police to the location near the Mississippi River in St. Louis where she had dumped her body.

McLaughlin was convicted of first-degree murder in 2006. A judge sentenced her to death after a jury was split on her conviction.

In 2016, a court ordered a new sentence, but a federal appeals court panel re-sentenced her to death in 2021.

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One person who knew Amber before she transitioned was Jessica Hicklin, 43, who spent 26 years in prison for a drug-related murder in western Missouri in 1995. She was 16.

Due to her age when the crime occurred, she was released from prison in January 2022.

Hicklin, 43, began her gender transition while in prison and in 2016 sued the Missouri Department of Corrections to challenge a policy that prohibited hormone therapy for inmates who were not receiving it before they were incarcerated.

She won the lawsuit in 2018 and became a mentor to other transgender inmates, including McLaughlin.

Although they were imprisoned together for nearly a decade, Hicklin says McLaughlin was so shy she hardly spoke.


when McLaughlin began the transition

about three years ago, she turned to Hicklin for guidance on mental health issues and help ensure her safety inside a male-dominated maximum-security prison.

“There's always red tape and red tape, so I spent time helping her present things the right way and talk to the right people,” Hicklin explained.

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In the process, they developed a friendship.

“We would sit down once a week and have what I call girl talk,” Hicklin said.

“She always had a smile and a silly joke.

If you ever talked to her, she would always tell a white joke."

They also discussed the challenges a transgender inmate faces in a men's prison, such as obtaining feminine items, dealing with discriminatory comments, and staying safe.

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McLaughlin still felt insecure, especially about her well-being, according to Hicklin.

“He was definitely a vulnerable person,” Hicklin said.

“Definitely afraid of being assaulted or victimized, which is more common for trans people in the Department of Corrections.”

The only woman to have been executed in Missouri was Bonnie B. Heady, who died on December 18, 1953 for kidnapping and killing a 6-year-old boy.

Heady was executed in the gas chamber, alongside the other kidnapper and murderer, Carl Austin Hall.

Nationwide, 18 people were executed in 2022, including two in Missouri.

Kevin Johnson, 37, was executed on November 29 for ambushing and killing a Kirkwood, Missouri police officer.

Carman Deck was executed in May for killing James and Zelma Long during a burglary at his home in De Soto, Missouri.

Another Missouri inmate, Leonard Taylor, is scheduled to die on February 7 for killing his girlfriend and three young children.

Source: telemundo

All news articles on 2023-01-03

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