The Case of Cyntoia Brown

This blog post is very unique, dealing with the the situation of Cyntoia Brown. I am almost positive that anyone reading this post has already heard of this woman and her story. In case you haven’t (e.g. you’ve been living under a rock), Brown is spending her life in prison for murder. She was a former child sex slave who killed the very man who exploited her when she was 16 years old. The 43-year-old man lived in Nashville and was killed in 2004. Her case has gone viral on social media this week despite her being in jail for over ten years.

According to Brown, her childhood included abuse and drugs repeatedly. She was raped and forced into prostitution by a pimp and killed one of her clients out of self-defense. Despite the fact that she was just 16 years old, she was tried as an adult.

Brown’s story has begun circulating again, calling the attention of A-list celebrities. For example, Kim Kardashian West and Rihanna have posted about this issue, using the hashtag #FreeCyntoiaBrown. West has even talked to her lawyers to see what she could do to help with Brown’s situation. Prior to this renewed interest, Brown’s case was used as a vital factor in determining how to deal with child prostitution cases in the state of Tennessee.

Her solicitor, Johny Mitchell Allan, reached for something under the bed while Brown was resisting his sexual advances. In Allan’s room, Brown witnessed a gun cabinet in his room. According to her, she thought he was “gonna get a gun or is gonna do something to me.” Then, she took a gun out of her purse and shot Allan. The prosecution during her trial argued that the motive for the killing was robbery, not self-defense since she took his wallet after she shot him. She was convicted of first-degree murder, first-degree felony murder and aggravated robbery.

Now, to look at the hard facts of this case. Upon leaving, Brown took several firearms and Allan’s pants which contained his wallet. Taking a look at Brown’s record prior to the killing, people pointed at her past drug use and criminal juvenile record to try to show a pattern. According to court documents, Allan was killed face down with his hands under his head, as if he was sleeping when murdered. Brown had denied to the court that she was a prostitute and, initially, claimed that they didn’t have sexual relations. Authorities say that after the kill, she had stolen his pickup truck and drove to a Walmart where she had someone else pick her up.

Brown never took the stand during the trial and the jury sided with prosecutors. The jury didn’t know her tragic background of prostitution and abuse. While some of Brown’s actions were in the wrong, we have to be more sympathetic to her reasoning for shooting Allen. The justice system needs to show empathy for a survivor of child sex slavery, not punish her.

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