Execution set for Missouri inmate who killed ex-girlfriend

The Missouri Supreme Court on Thursday set a January execution date for Scott McLaughlin, who was convicted of raping and killing an ex-girlfriend 19 years ago.

The execution at the state prison in Bonne Terre, scheduled for Jan. 3, would come six weeks after another convicted killer is scheduled to die. Kevin Johnson faces the death penalty on Nov. 29 for killing Kirkwood Police Sgt. Bill McEntee in suburban St. Louis in 2005.

McLaughlin, now 48, was convicted of killing 45-year-old Beverly Guenther on Nov. 20, 2003. She was raped and stabbed to death outside of her workplace in St. Louis County.

A judge sentenced McLaughlin to death after a jury was unable to decide on death or life in prison without parole. A federal judge in St. Louis ordered a new sentencing hearing in 2016, citing concerns about the effectiveness of McLaughlin’s trial lawyers and faulty jury instructions.

But in 2021, a federal appeals court panel reinstated the death penalty.

The pace of executions nationally has slowed dramatically in recent years. Ten people have been executed so far this year in five states, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. One of them was in Missouri, where Carmen Deck died by injection in May for killing James and Zelma Long during a robbery at their home in De Soto, Missouri, in 1996.

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