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An openly transgender rapist and murderer set to be executed in Missouri in January is asking for clemency based on mental health issues.
According to CBS News, Amber McLaughlin, 49, was convicted of the murder of ex-girlfriend Beverly Guenther. McLaughlin raped and then stabbed Guenther to death in St. Louis County on Nov. 20, 2003.
McLaughlin was sentenced to death by a judge after a jury failed to reach a decision between death or life in prison without parole and is scheduled to be executed on Jan 3. Should the bid for mercy fail, McLaughlin would be the first openly transgender person to be executed in the US.
A petition asking Republican Gov. Mike Parson to stop the execution has been launched and has since amassed over 1,500 signatures. The petition claims that the extreme abuse the convicted murderer endured as a child led to McLaughlin becoming a mentally and physically unstable adult.
“It’s wrong when anyone’s executed regardless, but I hope that this is a first that doesn’t occur,” federal public defender Larry Komp told CBS News. “Amber has shown great courage in embracing who [McLaughlin] is as a transgender woman in spite of the potential for people reacting with hate, so I admire [the inmate’s] display of courage.”
In the clemency petition, McLaughlin’s lawyers detailed their client’s history of child abuse and subsequent mental health issues, including how a foster parent once rubbed feces in McLaughlin’s face and how the child’s adoptive father, a police officer, used to taser the child. The petition also documents suicide attempts as both a child and an adult and states that McLaughlin’s counsel failed to present psychiatric evidence during the trial.
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