A sex trafficking survivor serving a life sentence for killing a man who allegedly paid to have sex with her will soon receive a clemency hearing.
Cyntoia Brown, 30, has served 13 years for the 2004 murder of real estate agent Johnny Allen, who picked her up when she was 16. A federal appeals court agreed Tuesday to hear arguments on June 14 about her clemency. Days later, a state parole board agreed to hold a clemency hearing on May 23 inside the Tennessee Prison for Women in Nashville, where Brown is being held. She is expected to ask for her release.
Brown's case has seen a new wave of attention in recent years, with celebrities including Kim Kardashian, Rihanna and Lebron James rallying for her release. Brown's case was the subject of a PBS documentary in 2011, "Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story."
When Brown was 16, she was living in a Nashville hotel with a 24-year-old pimp called Kut Throat, who allegedly forced her into sex trafficking.
Brown said Allen, who was 43, took her to his Nashville home and they got into bed together. She said she fatally shot Allen with a handgun she carried in her purse after he reached under his bed and she thought he was grabbing a gun. After she shot him, she allegedly took his wallet, his truck and two firearms, according to court documents.
Prosecutors claimed that Brown killed Allen to rob him.
“I shot him,” she allegedly told police soon after the shooting, according to The Tennessean. “I executed him.”
Even though she was just 16, she was tried as an adult and convicted of first-degree murder. She will not be eligible for parole until she’s at least 67.
Last year, celebrities shed more light on the case with the trending hashtag #FREECYNTOIABROWN.
Rihanna shared a post on Instagram about Brown in November, writing: "Did we somehow change the definition of #JUSTICE along the way?? Cause..... Something is horribly wrong when the system enables these rapists and the victim is thrown away for life! To each of you responsible for this child's sentence I hope to God you don't have children, because this could be your daughter being punished for punishing already!"
That same day, Kim Kardashian tweeted, “The system has failed. It’s heart breaking to see a young girl sex trafficked then when she has the courage to fight back is jailed for life! We have to do better & do what’s right. I’ve called my attorneys yesterday to see what can be done to fix this.#FreeCyntoiaBrown”
Brown completed an associate's degree from Lipscomb University while imprisoned.
[Photo: Tennessee Felony Offender]