At the age of 16, she was sentenced to life in prison for killing her sex trafficker. Fifteen years later, she was released from the Tennessee Prison for Women and is now free.
At her hearing, Cyntoia Brown begged for mercy. The 30-year-old is a college graduate, an advocate against sex trafficking, and a convicted murderer.
“What I did was horrible. There’s nothing I can say to justify it. You can’t justify it. You can’t. You know, I killed Johnny Allen,” Brown said.
Her miserable story began in 2004 when she was convicted of killing Johnny Allen, a 43-year-old real estate broker she claims solicited her for sex. She was 14 years old at the time of the murder.
According to an amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by her attorneys in 2015, Brown was allegedly forced into sex with other men by 24-year-old Garion “Cut Throat” McGlothen and had suffered physical and sexual abuse. McGlothen died in 2005 before Brown was sentenced.
Brown, 16 at that time, was convicted of first-degree murder in 2006 and given a mandatory life sentence with the possibility of parole starting in 2057.
The crime cost her 15 years in prison.
Early Wednesday morning, Brown was officially released from the Tennessee Prison for Women after being granted clemency in January by then-Gov. Bill Haslam, the Nashville District Attorney’s Office said in a statement. “Per the commutation, Brown has now been released to parole supervision.”
“When I was 16, I did a horrible thing, and I have carried that with me this whole time,” Brown said in her hearing. “I have a college degree now, a family, a whole new community of people who love me, who believe in me, who support me.”
Brown had developed the Marshall Project, a program aiming to help girls who have been trafficked and exploited like she was.
“I was able to help people, which is amazing. Young people, young kids. They listen.”
Her case gained public attention in 2017 after celebrities, including Kim Kardashian, called for her release.
She was also the subject of a 2011 documentary called “Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story.” She also spent time in prison writing a book, called “Free Cyntoia,” which will be published by Atria Books on Oct. 15, according to ABC News.
However, Brown will still be subject to compliance with an approved release plan, must maintain employment or educational enrollment, participate in counseling sessions, and maintain “a regular commitment” to community service, the district attorney said.