Cyntoia Brown, the Tennessee woman imprisoned for killing a man who solicited her for sex when she was a 16-year-old trafficking victim, has been released from prison, the Tennessee Department of Corrections announced.
Brown, 31, was released from the Tennessee Prison for Women 15 years after she fatally shot 43-year-old real estate agent Johnny Allen at his home.
Brown was serving a life sentence, but had her sentence commuted earlier this year by Gov. Bill Haslam.
Several celebrities, including Kim Kardashian West and Rihanna, have used their social media platforms to shine a spotlight on Brown’s case.
Brown, who was raped several times as the child of an alcoholic mother, was a teen victim of sex trafficking in Tennessee in 2004 when she killed Allen in his Nashville residence.
Brown said she was forced to prostitute by an older boyfriend who essentially became the underage girl’s pimp, taking the money that she would make. She admitted she shot Allen in the back of the head, but claimed she shot him in self-defense because she saw him reach for his gun.
After driving to his home, Brown alleged Allen showed her his guns before they got into his bed together. Subsequently, she said, he reached underneath his bed for what she thought was a gun, so she pulled a .40-caliber handgun out of her purse and shot him.
During her trial, it was revealed Brown had waived her Miranda rights, giving statements to Nashville police in which she described the incident in detail.
Brown said she took money from Allen’s wallet and took two guns before driving his truck to a nearby Walmart parking lot.
The jury rejected her claim of self-defense and found her guilty of first-degree premeditated murder, first-degree felony murder and especially aggravated robbery. The trial court merged the murder convictions and sentenced Brown to life in prison at Tennessee Prison for Women.
Had Haslam not commuted her sentence, she would have first become parole eligible at 69.
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Last month, Netflix announced it had acquired Cyntoia Brown’s life rights. A feature film is in the works with Daniel Birman directing. Birman directed Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story, a riveting documentary that helped bring awareness to Brown’s situation.
A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to help Brown get started with her new life.