NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Lawyers for a Tennessee woman serving a life sentence for killing a man in 2004 who solicited her for prostitution when she was 16 have petitioned the state Board of Parole to commute her sentence.
Attorneys for Cyntoia Brown, now 29, filed the petition Tuesday seeking to reduce Brown’s sentence from first-degree murder to second-degree murder, which could allow for her release next year, The Tennessean reports. Currently she is ineligible for parole until age 67.
Brown’s attorney, Charles Bone, said the board has no timeline to complete a review of Brown’s case. Although Bone hopes the board recommends the sentence be commuted, the decision ultimately rests with Gov. Bill Haslam.
Supporters have called Brown’s case an example of unjust punishment for a victim of child sex trafficking who was forced into prostitution. And celebrities Snoop Dogg, Kim Kardashian West and Lebron James have all gone on social media to support freeing Brown. A recent Rihanna post on Instagram with “#FREECYNTOIABROWN” also drew more than 1 million ‘likes.’
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Haslam told WPLN-FM that his administration is gathering information on Brown, but he hasn’t yet seen her clemency appeal. He is unlikely to decide any cases until near the end of his second term, which comes next year. He has not freed any inmates in his time in office.
Brown was convicted as an adult of the 2004 murder of real estate agent Johnny Allen, 43.
Prosecutors said Brown killed the man to rob him. But Brown has said she feared he would harm her after he had picked her up off the street and drove her back to his house. She also said that when she met Allen she was living with a man who sexually abused her and forced her into prostitution so they could have money to live.
Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com