First transgender death row inmate's final words as state defies appeals

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Amber McLaughlin, 49, died from a lethal injection on Tuesday night after being convicted of murder
Amber McLaughlin, 49, died from a lethal injection on Tuesday night after being convicted of murder

The first transgender death row inmate to be executed in the US has given her final words before dying from a lethal injection.

Amber McLaughlin, 49, was put to death in Missouri on Tuesday night just hours after Republican Governor Mike Parson declined a clemency request.

She had been convicted of murder after she stalked a former girlfriend and stabbed her to death almost 20 years ago.

As her execution was carried out, McLaughlin spoke quietly with a spiritual adviser at her side as a fatal dose of pentobarbital was injected.

She breathed heavily a couple of times before closing her eyes, and was pronounced dead a few minutes later.

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In a final written statement released after her death, McLaughlin said: “I am sorry for what I did.

First transgender death row inmate's final words as state defies appealsIn her final written statement McLaughlin said she was a "loving and caring person" (Jeremy S Weis/AP/REX/Shutterstock)

“I am a loving and caring person.”

McLaughlin's execution is the first of the year so far.

A total of 18 executions were carried out across the country in 2022, the lowest figure since 1991 excluding the two pandemic years of 2020 and 2021.

McLaughlin's death sentence had been marked by controversy after campaigners and her legal team claimed she had long suffered from problems with her mental health.

A clemency petition submitted by her attorneys cited her traumatic childhood and mental health issues which the jury was not informed of at her trial.

A foster parent is said to have rubbed faeces in her face when she was a toddler, and her adoptive father used a stun gun on her, according to the petition, which also cited severe depression resulting in multiple suicide attempts.

First transgender death row inmate's final words as state defies appealsMcLaughlin's death sentence proved controversial as campaigners said she had childhood trauma and mental health issues (Missouri Department of Corrections)

McLaughlin's sexual identity was "not the main focus" of the clemency request, said her attorney, Larry Komp.

Many years before she transitioned, McLaughlin was in a relationship with her victim Beverly Guenther.

After they stopped dating, McLaughlin would often appear at the office where Guenther worked and sometimes hide inside the building, according to court records.

Guenther obtained a restraining order, with police officers occasionally having to escort her to her car after work.

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Her neighbours had called police on the night of November 20, 2003 when she failed to return home.

Officers again attended the office building, where they found a broken knife handle near her car and a trail of blood.

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

McLaughlin was convicted of first-degree murder in 2006. A judge sentenced McLaughlin to death after a jury deadlocked on the sentence.

Benedict Tetzlaff-Deas

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