Tennessee Governor Grants Clemency to 11 People, Cyntoia Brown Not Included

Advocates push for Cyntoia Brown's clemency
CBS News

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has released the names of people who were granted executive pardons and clemency, yet one familiar name did not make the list.

Cyntoia Brown was not included. She is serving a life sentence for a murder her lawyers say she committed in self defense as a sex trafficking victim.

On Thursday, Haslam granted clemency to 11 people. In a statement, he said in part, “These individuals have made positive contributions to their communities and deserve pardons, or are individuals who will receive another chance to become contributing members of society by virtue of their commutations.”

In 2004, a then-16-year-old Brown was convicted of murdering John Allen in the first degree. Brown says her then-24-year-old boyfriend nicknamed “Cut Throat,” forced her into prostitution and she was being sexually abused, according to court documents.

Brown’s lawyers claim she killed Allen in self defense. She was sentenced to life in prison. Brown's case got national attention after the release of the 2011 PBS documentary, “Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story” aired.

Earlier this month, a Tennessee Supreme Court ruled the 30-year-old must serve 51 years before she can be eligible for parole.

“The fact that there were mitigating circumstances, that she was the victim of sex trafficking at the time all goes to argue that she might deserve some prison time for what she’s done but a life sentence seems unduly harsh,” Steven Mulroy, a law professor at the University of Memphis, told InsideEdition.com.

“I think that there are certainly people in Tennessee who have been convicted under less mitigating circumstances, who were adults at the time of the offense, but still had shorter sentences than this.”

Advocates including celebrities like Meek Mill and Kim Kardashian are pushing outgoing Gov. Haslam to grant her clemency. Last week, the lead detective in Brown’s case wrote a letter to Haslam stating the opposite.

According to WRKN, Detective Charles Robinson claims Brown has inconsistencies in her story.

“At the beginning of the investigation, I considered the possibility that Cyntoia Brown was justified in killing Johnny Allen. At the conclusion of this investigation, my findings were that she was not justified in killing Mr. Allen and her only motivation for the murder was robbery.”

At this point, Haslam’s office says he is still reviewing and considering additional clemency requests. He could grant clemency to more people including Brown before he leaves office next month.

If that doesn’t occur, WHBQ reports that Brown’s attorneys can apply for clemency when the incoming Gov. Bill Lee takes office in January.

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