Missouri governor does not pardon first openly transgender sentenced to death

Tuesday at 6:00 pm, Amber McLaughlin is due to die by lethal injection for a crime she committed 19 years ago.

ST. LOUIS. On the morning of the scheduled execution, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson denied Amber McLaughlin a pardon.

She will be the first openly transgender death row inmate in Missouri and the first in the United States.

In a press release, the Governor’s Office confirmed that they would carry out McLaughlin’s sentence in accordance with the Missouri Supreme Court’s ruling.

“McLaughlin’s conviction and verdict remain in place after extensive and careful scrutiny of Missouri law. McLaughlin stalked, raped and killed Ms Gunther. McLaughlin is a violent criminal,” Parson said. “Ms Günther’s family and loved ones deserve peace. The State of Missouri will carry out McLaughlin’s sentence in accordance with the court’s order and restore justice.”

On Tuesday at 6:00 pm, McLaughlin is due to die by lethal injection for a crime she committed 19 years ago.

According to the Death Penalty Clearinghouse, there has never been a known case of an openly transgender prisoner being executed in the United States.

McLaughlin’s lawyer Lawrence Kompe shared this statement:

“We are just deeply disappointed. This was a case where the jury refused to award death, so it was ideal for a pardon to close that loophole and award life.”

Speaking of the defendant, Governor Parson named McLaughlin by her birth name.

PROMO, an LGBTQ rights organization in Missouri, shared a statement from Director of Public Affairs Robert Fisher:

“We expect elected officials at all levels of government to respect the individual in life and beyond. Using the correct name and pronouns of a person is the most basic level of decorum we can show towards each other.”

The crime

5 On Your Side went through our archives to find out what happened on November 20, 2003.

The victim’s neighbor said that Beverly Gunther was afraid of her ex-partner for several months.

According to the neighbor, we learned that a policeman had been walking Gunther from work to her car for a week.

But as soon as she stopped asking for an escort, the murder happened.

Gunther was about to file another protection order against McLaughlin the next day when she was kidnapped from her job in Earth City.

Her body was then found in south St. Louis.

Gunther was raped and stabbed to death.

In a press release, Parson said: “McLaughlin had terrorized Ms. Gunther months before, to the point where Ms. Gunther received a protection order from McLaughlin after McLaughlin broke into her home. question. Missouri courts have found no problem in applying the Missouri law to McLaughlin, and federal appeals courts have upheld this.”


McLaughlin was charged with first-degree murder, rape, and aggravated assault.

Comp said that while the jury found McLaughlin guilty of the crime, they were deadlocked with a death sentence.

It was then that a St. Louis County judge issued a death sentence.

Missouri is one of only two states in the country that allows judges to do so.

On Friday, Komp said all litigation had been completed.

Comp explained that their motion for a stay of execution was denied by the Missouri Supreme Court.

He said they couldn’t go to the US Supreme Court because the arguments were based on state law.

This meant that the only person to show a pardon was Governor Parson.

A few weeks before the scheduled date for the execution, McLaughlin’s lawyers delivered this petition for clemency to Governor Parson.

Several defense attorneys sent letters to Parson asking for clemency, including the Missouri Catholic Conference, head of the Missouri public defender system, Democratic Congressman Cory Bush (MO-01) and Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II (MO-05).

Chief Justice Michael A. Wolf and retired justices also sent this letter to Governor Parson’s Deputy General Counsel based on the jury deadlock issue.

On the day of his execution, Wolf sat down with 5 On Your Side.

Wolf is a former Justice and Chief Justice of the Missouri Supreme Court and Professor Emeritus and Dean of the School of Law at St. Louis University.

He said: “We were concerned that the death penalty was recommended or handed down by the judge even when the jury did not recommend it. society than judges.

Wolf said he was not surprised by Governor Parson’s decision to deny the pardon.

“Governors rarely do this in Missouri. It seems to them that the case proceeded along the path that seems fair in the trial. They are not going to question what the courts have done,” he explained.

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