First trans Death Row inmate to die tonight as last-minute mercy plea rejected

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    A Death Row inmate will become the first ever openly transgender person to be executed in the US after her last-minute plea for mercy was rejected.

    Amber McLaughlin, 49, who had been "anxiously waiting" for a decision, will die tonight after a clemency request to the Governor of Missouri Mike Parson was turned down at the eleventh hour.

    Governor Parson labelled her a "violent criminal" as he upheld her death sentence, handed down after she stabbed her ex-girlfriend Beverly Guenther to death in 2003.

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    In a statement, Governor Parson said: "McLaughlin’s conviction and sentence remains after multiple, thorough examinations of Missouri law.

    "McLaughlin stalked, raped and murdered [her ex-girlfriend] Ms Guenther. McLaughlin is a violent criminal.

    "Ms Guenther’s family and loved ones deserve peace. The State of Missouri will carry out McLaughlin’s sentence according to the Court’s order and deliver justice."

    A statement by the State of Missouri also confirmed the sentence would be carried out and didn't use the inmate's chosen first name, adopted after her transition.

    McLaughlin, 49, will receive the lethal injection on Tuesday (January 3), with the execution reportedly scheduled to take place at 6pm local time (midnight UK time on Wednesday, January 4).

    McLaughlin, previously known as Scott, was in a relationship with Ms Guenther before publicly identifying as transgender.

    Their relationship turned sour and Ms Guenther, 45, got a restraining order against McLaughlin, who had been following her to her place of work and hiding in the building.

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    Guenther's neighbours began to worry when she didn't return home after work on the night of November 20, 2003.

    Police went to her office building, where they found a broken knife handle and a trail of blood near her car.

    Just a day later, McLaughlin led officers to the site where she had dumped her former lover's body.

    In 2006, she was convicted of first-degree murder unilaterally after a jury deadlocked over the case, and sentenced to die by lethal injection.

    Ten years later, in 2016, a court ordered a new sentencing hearing but a federal appeals court panel ultimately reinstated the death penalty in 2021.

    According to information gathered from the Death Penalty Information Centre, there are no known cases yet of a transgender prisoner being executed – meaning that McLaughlin will be the first if tomorrow's execution goes ahead.

    McLaughlin and her lawyer, Larry Komp, had submitted a clemency request, asking that the inmate's life be spared.

    The request cited her difficult upbringing, her struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts.

    It also cited her gender dysphoria – a condition often experienced by transgender people, where a person becomes distressed because of a mismatch between the sex they were assigned at birth and their gender identity – as reasons why she should not be executed.

    "It's wrong when anyone's executed regardless, but I hope that this is a first that doesn't occur," Mr Komp previously said,

    "Amber has shown great courage in embracing who she is as a transgender woman in spite of the potential for people reacting with hate, so I admire her display of courage."

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