A California woman who was sentenced to death as a teenager for killing the man who had forced her into prostitution now has a second chance at life.
Sara Kruzan, who is now 44 years old and working to increase awareness of sex trafficking, has received a pardon from Governor Newsom.
This case has sparked discussion about how courts frequently treat abuse survivors, particularly when they are minors.
In 1994, Kruzan, then 16 years old, fatally shot George Gilbert Howard, 36, who had been abusing her sexually and using her as a sex slave since she was just 13 years old. Kruzan shot Howard in the neck and took his car and $1,500 in cash.
.In 1995, when Kruzan was 17 years old, he was found guilty of first-degree murder and given a life sentence with a four-year consecutive firearm enhancement. In 2013, she received a second sentence of 15 years to life in prison with a four-year firearm enhancement for second-degree murder. Kruzan was freed in 2013 after serving 18 years in prison.
Here’s what Kruzan said, from her prison cell back in 2009:
“I definitely know that I deserve punishment. You don’t just take someone’s life and think that it’s okay.”
“I’ve found the ability to believe in myself. I have a lot of good to offer.”
The video was recorded by Human Rights Watch and was captured 15 years when Kruzan was convicted of Murder.
Here’s what Newsom wrote in his pardon:
“Ms. Kruzan committed a crime that took the life of the victim. Since then, Ms. Kruzan has transformed her life and dedicated herself to community service. This act of clemency for Ms. Kruzan does not minimize or· forgive her conduct or the harm it caused. It does recognize the work she has done since to transform herself.”
In a statement, Newsom said that Kruzan has shown she “is living an upright life” since her release, and while the pardon does not minimize her crime, “it does recognize the work she has done since to transform herself.”
Read it here: Gov.ca.gov
Watch it here: Youtube/ABC 7