Cyntoia Brown’s lawyers are pleading with the court to release her from prison, claiming she is dying from fetal alcohol syndrome.
Brown, now 29, was sentenced to life in prison for killing her captor when she was 16. She claimed he pimped her out and forced her into sex trafficking. She will be eligible for parole at age 69.
“As an incarcerated person who is also a victim of fetal alcohol poisoning, Ms. Brown is likely to die in prison well before her ostensible minimum of 51 years of incarceration has expired,” her lawyer argued.
The defense is claiming that Brown was too severely impaired and should not be held responsible for shooting and killing Johnny Allen in 2004.
"This was a seriously mentally impaired girl, subject to the immaturity and impulsiveness of all juveniles but to a much greater degree, who had been abandoned by her parents and whose only refuge was a pimp who sexually and physically abused her," the appeal said.
The defense claims she suffers from “severe impairment” ranging from psychological to physical, including “flattened philtrum, a receded chin and cheekbones, small eye openings and misshapen curvature of the fingers.”
Her attorney said Brown’s mother drank “a fifth a day” while she was pregnant with the victim, which caused Brown to have fetal alcohol syndrome.
Brown’s story gained a lot of attention on social media and the hashtag #FreeCyntoiaBrown was created after many claimed she was punished unfairly given her circumstances.
Celebrities joined the cause as well.
Rihanna, Snoop Dogg, Cara Delevigne, and Kim Kardashian have voiced their support for Cyntoia Brown. Kim even called her lawyer, who was on the "Dream Team" that represented O.J. Simpson, to have something done about it.
The system has failed. It’s heart breaking to see a young girl sex trafficked then when she has the courage to fight back is jailed for life! We have to do better & do what’s right. I’ve called my attorneys yesterday to see what can be done to fix this. #FreeCyntoiaBrown pic.twitter.com/73y26mLp7u
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) November 21, 2017
Rihanna posted the hashtag on Instagram for her 59 million followers to see.
Despite the support for her cause, Brown’s attorney is certain she will not outlive her sentence and is challenging her sentence. Her defense is fighting for her to be able to get the medical attention she needs.
“The life expectancy of incarcerated individuals is significantly lower than the overall population,” the attorney said. “Based on the life expectancy of an incarcerated African-American woman like Ms. Brown, who suffers from congenital alcohol-related defects, it is likely she will not survive 51 years in prison.”