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Woman Pardoned 27 Years After Being Sentenced to Life as Teen | She Fatally Shot Man Who Trafficked Her
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Woman Pardoned 27 Years After Being Sentenced to Life as Teen | She Fatally Shot Man Who Trafficked Her

Sara Kruzan's abuser had sexually assaulted and trafficked her for prostitution since she was 13 years old.

Image Source: KPBS Public Media/ Youtube

Trigger warning: This article contains themes of sexual assault and trafficking that some readers may find distressing

Sara Kruzan, who was convicted of murder as a minor for killing a man who sexually abused and trafficked her has been pardoned by California Governor Gavin Newsom. Kruzan was 16 years old when she fatally shot George Gilbert Howard in a Riverside, California hotel room in 1994. She was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison the following year. reports PEOPLE. During her trial, she testified that Howard had sexually assaulted and trafficked her for prostitution since she was 13 years old. Kruzan was sentenced with a four-year consecutive firearm enhancement added, per CNN. In 2010, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger commuted her sentence to 25 years with the possibility of parole. She was paroled and released from jail in 2013 by then-Gov. Jerry Brown, but the conviction remained.



 

 

In 2013, Kruzan was resentenced to 15 years to life for second-degree murder and a four-year firearm enhancement, a total term of 19 years to life. After serving 18 years in prison, Kruzan was released. The pardon from Newsom read, "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." He added, "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."



 

 

A governor's pardon does not reverse a conviction, but it does relieve a person of some of the repercussions of a criminal conviction. Kruzan is still a convicted felon in California, notwithstanding the pardon. Kruzan's legal team has formally requested that the Riverside County district attorney's office reconsider the case and ask the court to overturn her conviction. Kruzan will no longer have a criminal record if the conviction is overturned. On July 1, the governor gave 17 pardons, 15 commutations, and one medical reprieve, according to a news release from Newsom's office. According to the statement, Newsom has issued 129 pardons, 123 commutations, and 35 reprieves since assuming office in January 2019. Kruzan recounted being overcome with relief when she learned of the governor's decision. She spoke to Los Angeles Times and said that it felt like, "releasing these invisible chains that I didn’t realize were still taloned in (me)." She hopes that her case will, "have a ripple effect for others who identify with different elements of what I experienced."



 

 

She added that the system fails to identify, "the complex and compounded trauma, and it’s not just my case, because anyone who has any direct impact with the system has been impacted by trauma." She further said, "Do I wanna move forward with love? Or do I wanna move forward with fear, anger, and pain?"

"Now, I wanna move forward in love. And that takes a lot of courage to do that." She released her memoir I Cried to Dream Again, earlier this year. Californians for Safety and Justice founder Lenore Anderson praised the pardon. She said, "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."

References:

https://people.com/crime/calif-woman-pardoned-27-years-after-killing-the-man-who-trafficked-her-as-a-teen/?

https://edition.cnn.com/2022/07/03/us/california-sara-kruzan-pardon-shooting-abuser/index.html

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-07-02/newsom-pardons-sara-kruzan-woman-sent-to-prison-for-killing-man-who-sex-trafficked-her

Cover Image Source: KPBS Public Media/Youtube

If you are being subjected to sexual assault, or know of anyone who is, please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673)