The Execution Of A Transgender Woman In Missouri Would Be The Country’s First

Amber McLaughlin, 49, will be the first transgender person to be executed in the United States unless Missouri Governor Mike Parson commutes her sentence. She will be put to death by injection on Tuesday for the 2003 murder of a former girlfriend.

According to McLaughlin’s attorney, Larry Komp, there are no current judicial appeals.

The clemency petition focuses on several things, including McLaughlin’s difficult upbringing and her mental health problems, which the jury was never told about during her trial. According to the clemency petition, a foster provider put feces in her face when she was a young child, and her adoptive father shocked her. She allegedly has depression and has made several suicide attempts.

The petition also contains documentation citing a diagnosis of gender dysphoria. This disorder results in suffering and other symptoms when a person’s gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.

Amber’s lawyer, Larry Komp, said on Monday, “We think Amber has exhibited amazing courage because I can tell you there’s a lot of animosity when it comes to that topic. But he said that the clemency application’s “primary focus” is not McLaughlin’s sexual orientation.

According to Kelli Jones, a spokesperson for Parson, the clemency plea is still being reviewed.

According to the anti-execution Death Penalty Information Center, there has never been a transgender prisoner executed in the United States. A prison companion claims to have witnessed McLaughlin’s personality develop throughout her gender transformation.

McLaughlin had a relationship with Beverly Guenther before he transitioned. According to court documents, McLaughlin would appear at the 45-year-old Guenther’s suburban St. Louis workplace, occasionally concealing inside. Police officers sometimes escorted Guenther to her vehicle after work due to the restraining order she had received.

On the night of November 20, 2003, Guenther’s neighbors reported her disappearance to the police. Officers arrived at the office building and discovered a blood trail and a broken knife handle close to her car. A day later, McLaughlin directed police to where the body had been discarded in St. Louis, close to the Mississippi River.

In 2006, McLaughlin was found guilty of first-degree murder. A jury couldn’t agree on a verdict, so a judge executed McLaughlin. A federal appeals court panel reinstated the death penalty in 2021 despite a 2016 court injunction for a new sentencing hearing.

Jessica Hicklin, 43, who served 26 years in jail for a drug-related murder in western Missouri in 1995, is one individual who knew Amber before she transformed. She was sixteen. She received a release date of January 2022 due to her age at the time the crime was committed.

Hicklin, 43, started transitioning while incarcerated and filed a lawsuit against the Missouri Department of Corrections in 2016 to overturn a rule that forbade hormone therapy for prisoners who weren’t receiving it before being imprisoned. She prevailed in the lawsuit in 2018 and afterward served as a mentor to McLaughlin and other transgender prisoners.

Despite spending about ten years in prison together, Hicklin claimed McLaughlin was so shy that they barely spoke. But when McLaughlin started transitioning approximately three years ago, she sought Hicklin for advice on matters like receiving mental health treatment and finding assistance to secure her safety while incarcerated in a maximum-security facility that is predominately male.

Because paperwork and bureaucracy are constant, Hicklin added, “I spent time teaching her to file the correct things and talk to the appropriate people.”

A friendship grew as a result of the procedure.

Once a week, Hicklin recalled, “we would sit down and have what I referred to as female talk.” She always smiled and cracked a joke. You would always use dad jokes when speaking to her.

They also talked about the difficulties a transgender prisoner confronts, including how to get feminine items, how to handle nasty remarks, and how to keep safe.

According to Hicklin, McLaughlin still harbored insecurities, particularly over her well-being.

A vulnerable person, according to Hicklin. Frightened of being attacked or assaulted, which happens more frequently to transgender people in the Department of Corrections.

Bonnie B. Heady was the only woman ever put to death in Missouri; she was executed on December 18, 1953, for the kidnapping and murder of a 6-year-old boy. Carl Austin Hall, the other kidnapping and murderer, was executed in the same gas chamber as Heady.

In 2022, 18 individuals were put to death nationwide, including 2 in Missouri. On November 29, Kevin Johnson, 37, was executed for the ambush murder of a Kirkwood, Missouri, police officer. For killing James and Zelma Long during a robbery at their De Soto, Missouri, home, Carman Deck was put to death in May.

Leonard Taylor, a second prisoner from Missouri, is due to pass away on February 7 after killing his fiancée and her three young children.

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