Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom pardoned a 44-year-old woman convicted of killing the man who sex trafficked her when she was a teenager.
Sara Kruzan’s pardon was among the 17 pardons, 15 commutations and one medical reprieve Newsom’s office announced Friday.
The pardon does not erase Kruzan’s conviction. However, according to Newsom’s office, it might help remove some of the barriers to employment and seeking public office that Kruzan might encounter due to her criminal record.
The Superior Court of California sentenced Kruzan to life imprisonment in 1995, when she was 17 years old, for shooting to death George Gilbert Howard — the man who allegedly trafficked her for sex since she was 13 — when she was 16.
Kruzan killed Howard in a failed robbery attempt at a motel in Riverside, the New York Post reported.
After shooting Howard in the neck, Kruzan escaped with Howard’s money and the keys to his vehicle, the Post reported.
The court found Kruzan found guilty of first-degree murder charges. According to the Los Angeles Times, the judge presiding over the case then decided to try Kruzan as an adult.
Since a gun was involved in her killing of Howard, the court added a four-year consecutive firearm sentencing enhancement to her sentence.
Republican former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2011 commuted Kruzan’s sentence, bringing it down to 25 years to life with the possibility of parole, according to the Post.
Schwarzenegger’s successor, Democratic former California Gov. Jerry Brown, authorized Kruzan’s release in 2013, after she finished serving 19 years in prison, CBS News reported at that time.
Following her release, Kruzan applied for executive clemency, which Newsom granted.
“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,” Newsom wrote in the letter pardoning Kruzan.
“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,” Newsom wrote.
“I will never forget what happened that night and fully acknowledge what did, but I am immensely grateful to feel some relief from the burden of shame and social stigma,” Kruzan told the New York Times in a Tuesday statement shared through her literary agent.
Kruzan said that she “felt an overwhelming influx of emotions” when she learned that Newsom had pardoned her: “primarily awe and elation but also shock and grief as I thought about everything that led to this moment.”
“Sara is one of many thousands of youths who are exploited, sexually and commercially, who find themselves in the defendant’s seat when it’s more than obvious that the extreme abuse that they were suffering is what was underneath the crime,” Californians for Safety and Justice founder Lenore Anderson said, according to Los Angeles Times.
Kruzan’s attorneys have asked the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office for a review of her case and to ask the court to overturn its conviction of Kruzan, the Los Angeles Times reported.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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