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Sex Trafficking Victim Who Allegedly Killed Abuser Can Claim Self Defense After Appeals Court Win

Chrystul Kizer has long said that she killed her Randall Volar in self-defense after he sexually abused and sex trafficked her. She will now be able to make that legal claim at trial.

By Gina Tron
Chrystul Kizer G

A Wisconsin sex trafficking victim accused of killing her abuser when she was a teenager has won the right to claim self-defense in her upcoming murder trial

The Wisconsin Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, upheld a lower court ruling on Wednesday allowing Chrystul Kizer, 22, to argue self-defense against charges of first degree intentional homicide and arson, among others she faces.

Kizer was 17 years-old when she killed Kenosha resident Randall Volar, 34, in 2018. At the time of his death, Volar was awaiting trial for human trafficking, as Kenosha law enforcement had seized photos and digital evidence that showed Volar sexually assaulting a series of young Black women and advertising them for sex. 

Kizer says she met Volar when she was just 16, and claims that he sexually assaulted her and trafficked her — as he allegedly did the other underage girls he brought to Kenosha from the Milwaukee area before his death.

Kizer has repeatedly claimed that she shot Volar in self-defense — court documents allege she told her boyfriend at the time that she was "sick" of him touching her, according to the Associated Press — before setting his home ablaze, including in a 2019 Washington Post interview from jail. Her defense has maintained that the killing happened spontaneously after she endured years of abuse, NBC News reported.

After Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted in 2021 for shooting people to death at a protest in Kenosha, advocates argued that Kizer should also be given the same ability to argue self defense — though her claim to self defense rests on a law that specifically limits sex trafficking victims' criminal liability for actions committed as a result of being trafficked.

An appeals court had granted Kizer the right to use the "affirmative" defense in her case in June and, now that the state Supreme Court has upheld that decision, hers will be the first time this law will be used in a Wisconsin murder trial, according to NPR. However, its success it not guaranteed: Kizer must convince a judge and jury that her actions were a “direct result” of human trafficking. 

Kizer spent two years in jail awaiting trial before she was released in 2020, after multiple community groups raised enough money to pay her $400,000 bond. 

“Chrystul Kizer deserves a chance to present her defense and today’s decision will allow her to do that,” her lawyer Colleen Marion said Wednesday in a statement obtained by The Washington Post. “While the legal process on this matter is far from over, we — along with Chrystul and her family — believe the decision today affirms the legal rights provided by Wisconsin statute to victims of sex trafficking facing criminal charges.”

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