Transgender woman executed for first time in US history
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A 49-year-old prisoner in Missouri has become the first openly transgender woman to be executed in United States history.
She began her transition about three years ago while behind bars, and prior to her death, had petitioned Republican Gov. Mike Parson to ask that he commute her death sentence.
The clemency request addressed McLaughlin's traumatic childhood and mental health issues, claiming she had suffered from depression and had been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, a condition which can create a sense of unease for someone who may have a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity.
MaLaughlin's lawyers added that she had previously attempted suicide and noted that she had shown genuine remorse for her actions.
Her execution came after Governor Parson denied the request on Tuesday (3 January), arguing that the execution should move forward because the family and loved ones of Guenther 'deserve peace'.
The inmate died by lethal injection, being given a fatal dose of phenobarbital as she spoke with a spiritual adviser.
In a final written statement, McLaughlin apologised for her crimes, saying: "I am sorry for what I did. I am a loving and caring person."
McLaughlin was pronounced dead at 6:51pm local time, the Missouri Department of Corrections confirmed in a written statement.
Her execution marked the first in the US this year and the first in US history involving an openly transgender person.
The Death Penalty Information Center says she is one of just 18 women who have been put to death in the US since 1976, when the US Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty after a brief suspension.
Guenther and McLaughlin had split up prior to Guenther's death in 2003, and she had received an order of protection against McLaughlin after she was arrested for burglarising Guenther's home.
A few weeks after the order went into effect, McLaughlin approached Guenther outside her workplace before stabbing and sexually assaulting her.
McLaughlin was convicted by a jury of first-degree murder, forcible rape and armed criminal action. The jury were not able to reach an unanimous decision on whether she should be put to death, but Missouri state law allowed the judge on the case to impose the death penalty.
The convicted killer was held at Potosi Correctional Center, which houses male inmates.