Missouri has executed a trans-identifying male inmate for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, nearly two decades after the killing.
The state on Tuesday evening executed Amber McLaughlin, formerly Scott McLaughlin, 49, who was convicted in 2006 of stalking, repeatedly raping, and fatally stabbing his ex-girlfriend three years earlier.
McLaughlin died by lethal injection at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre, Missouri.
— FOX4 News Kansas City (@fox4kc) January 4, 2023
His death is thought to be the first execution of an openly trans-identifying male in U.S. history. There were no court appeals pending in McLaughlin’s case, according to his attorney, Larry Komp.
Hours before his death, Missouri Governor Mike Parson, a Republican, denied McLaughlin’s clemency request.
“McLaughlin terrorized Ms. Guenther in the final years of her life, but we hope her family and loved ones may finally have some peace,” Parson said in a statement after the execution.
Before he murdered her, McLaughlin was arrested for burglarizing the home of his ex-girlfriend, Beverly Guenther, 45. She got a restraining order against him.
Nevertheless, McLaughlin repeatedly stalked Guenther’s suburban St. Louis office, sometimes even hiding inside the building, court documents state. Police officers sometimes escorted Guenther to her car after work.
On the day of the murder, McLaughlin waited for Guenther outside her office and attacked her with a steak knife. He repeatedly stabbed and raped her before dumping her body near the Mississippi River in St. Louis.
Neighbors called the police when Guenther did not return home that night. Police went to her office and found a broken knife handle near her car along with a trail of blood. The next day, McLaughlin led police to where he had dumped her body near the Mississippi River.
About three years ago while in prison awaiting execution, McLaughlin began identifying and presenting as female, dressing in women’s clothes and wearing makeup. However, he never received hormone treatments, according to his attorney. He continued to be housed in a men’s prison, the Potosi Correctional Center south of St. Louis.
A clemency petition signed by several thousand people cited evidence it says the jury never heard, including abuse McLaughlin suffered as a child and his severe depression and multiple suicide attempts. A foster parent rubbed feces in McLaughlin’s face as a toddler, and his adoptive father used a stun gun on him, the petition claimed.
Meanwhile, some on social media called for remembering the victim of McLaughlin’s crime and rejected the idea that he is actually a woman.
#BeverlyGuenther was the only woman present when she was stalked, raped, tortured and murdered by a MAN named
— Katie Saurus🌹🦕🇺🇦 (@LeaningLeft46) January 4, 2023
McLaughlin was sentenced to death by a trial judge after a jury convicted him but deadlocked on his sentence. Missouri and Indiana are the only states that allow a judge to override a jury that fails to agree on a sentence.
In 2016, a federal judge vacated the death sentence and a court ordered a new sentencing hearing for McLaughlin. In 2021 though, McLaughlin’s death sentence was effectively restored by a federal appeals court.
Guenther’s family said they were glad the governor rejected McLaughlin’s clemency request and that they felt McLaughlin had to be held accountable for taking their loved one’s life.
McLaughlin’s death was Missouri’s third execution in nine months, a significant increase for the state over the last several years.