A Missouri inmate was put to death Tuesday for a 2003 killing, in what is believed to be the first execution of a transgender woman in the US, the AP reports. (It's thought to be the country's first execution of any openly transgender person, male or female, CNN reports.) Amber McLaughlin, 49, was convicted of stalking and killing a former girlfriend, then dumping the body near the Mississippi River in St. Louis. McLaughlin’s fate was sealed earlier Tuesday when Republican Gov. Mike Parson declined a clemency request. McLaughlin spoke quietly with a spiritual adviser at her side as the fatal dose of pentobarbital was injected. McLaughlin breathed heavily a couple of times, then shut her eyes. She was pronounced dead a few minutes later.
“I am sorry for what I did,” McLaughlin said in a final, written, statement. “I am a loving and caring person.” In 2003, long before transitioning, McLaughlin was in a relationship with Beverly Guenther. After they stopped dating, McLaughlin would show up at the suburban St. Louis office where the 45-year-old Guenther worked, sometimes hiding inside the building, according to court records. Guenther obtained a restraining order, and police officers occasionally escorted her to her car after work. Authorities said she had been raped and stabbed repeatedly with a steak knife when they found her body.
McLaughlin began transitioning about three years ago, according to Jessica Hicklin, who spent 26 years in prison for a drug-related killing before being released a year ago. Hicklin, now 43, sued the Missouri Department of Corrections, challenging a policy that prohibited hormone therapy for inmates who weren’t receiving it before being incarcerated. She won the lawsuit in 2018 and became a mentor to other transgender inmates, including McLaughlin. McLaughlin did not receive hormone treatments, however, Komp said. Hicklin described McLaughlin as a painfully shy person who came out of her shell after she decided to transition. “She always had a smile and a dad joke,” Hicklin said. “If you ever talked to her, it was always with the dad jokes.” (The clemency request cited a traumatic childhood and gender dysphoria.)