Tennessee’s six-member parole board is divided on whether to release sex trafficking victim Cyntoia Brown, who’s serving a life sentence for murdering her captor in 2004.
On Wednesday, two members of the board voted to release Brown, now 30, while two more denied her request for clemency, the Associated Press reported. Two other board members said Brown should serve at least 25 years of her sentence before becoming eligible for parole while the seventh board member was absent.
Brown has since apologized for killing 43-year-old Johnny Allen, who purchased her for sex and subjected her to physical, verbal and emotional abuse. She was just a 16-year-old girl at the time. Brown had suffered years of being trafficked and raped before she finally got the gumption to take down her abuser.
A jury didn’t see it that way, however, and sentenced the teen to life in prison for her “crime.” She was tried as an adult.
Brown’s story drew support from a number of celebrities, including Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, and rapper Snoop Dogg.
During Wednesday’s hearing, which wasn’t televised, Brown said she thinks every day about what she did and said she knows she can’t take it back. She told the board that she’s now a changed woman, 14 years later.
The New York Times reported the decision to release Brown ultimately lies with Gov. Bill Haslam, who’ll consider board members’ recommendations on how to proceed. Haslam, a Republican, is serving his last year in office and hasn’t granted any clemency petitions as of yet.
An appeals court will hear oral arguments in Brown’s case on June 14.