Cyntoia Brown, whose case was championed by Kim Kardashian and Rihanna, released from prison after 15 years
Brown was initially sentenced to life in prison in 2004 for killing real estate agent Johnny Mitchell Allen but was granted clemnecy by then-Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam in January
Cyntoia Brown, 31, in prison for killing a real estate agent in 2004, was released from prison on Wednesday after serving 15 years. Brown, whose case was championed by celebrities like Rihanna and Kim Kardashian, was initially sentenced to life in prison for killing Johnny Mitchell Allen who bought her for sex when she was 16, but was granted clemency by then-Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam in January.
"I look forward to using my experiences to help other women and girls suffering abuse and exploitation," Brown said in a statement after her release.
Brown was only 16 at the time she shot dead the 43-year-old real estate agent in 2004.
She was tried as an adult and convicted of first-degree murder, first-degree felony murder, and aggravated robbery. Her sentence required her to serve for at least 51 years before being considered for parole.
The prosecutors had argued that at the time Brown shot Allen, he was sleeping. She had also stolen his wallet, they alleged.
However, Brown testified that she shot him in self-defense as she thought he was reaching for a gun. Brown revealed that she had taken his wallet as she did not want to return empty-handed to her pimp who was identified as 'Kut-Throat'.
She spent more than a decade behind bars and has now been released under parole supervision. She will remain on parole supervision for the next ten years on the condition that she gets a job and doesn't violate any laws.
Post her release, Brown shared in a statement that she wants to help other young women girls suffering from abuse and exploitation.
"I thank Governor and First Lady Haslam for their vote of confidence in me and with the Lord's help I will make them as well as the rest of my supporters proud," she shared.
At this point, she is requesting privacy and transition time before she comes into the public eye, her attorneys shared. Since she was given a life sentence, many celebrities have supported her release from prison and have inspired the hashtag #FreeCyntoiaBrown.
In 2017, Rihanna shared a picture of Brown on her page urging people to take action and have her freed. Reality TV star Kim Kardashian has also been an avid supporter of Brown.
While granting clemency to Brown, Governor Haslam said, "This decision comes after careful consideration of what is a tragic and complex case."
While in prison, she received her associate degree from Lipscomb University in 2015 andobtained a bachelor's degree in the Tennessee Prison for Women in May, according to The Tennessean,
She collaborated with Tennessee's Juvenile Justice System to help counsel young people at risk, and her supporters say she's been a model inmate during her incarceration.
"She is light years today, as a woman, different from the traumatized 16-year-old that she was," founder and CEO of non-profit End Slavery Tennessee Derri Smith said last January, CNN reported.
"She's mentoring ... troubled youth, working on her college degree, she is planning a nonprofit so she can help other young people."