Chrystul Kizer, a Wisconsin 19-year-old who killed her alleged sexual abuser, was released from jail after several community organizations raised thousands for her bail.
Kizer was released on Monday after spending two years in Kenosha County Jail awaiting trial, reported The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In June 2018, the then-17-year-old Kizer shot and killed Randall P. Volar III in his Kenosha home. After the killing, she set his body on fire and stole his car.
Volar was 33 and Kizer was 17 years old when they reportedly met after Volar responded to an ad Kizer posted on Backpage, a now-defunct website often used by sex workers and traffickers. Kizer told The Washington Post Volar gave her money and gifts in exchange for sex.
Kizer also accused Volar of trafficking her on Backpage and forcing her to sleep with men for money.
At the time of his death, Volar was under investigation for sexually abusing several Black girls and filming some of his crimes. Kizer asserted she shot him in self-defense. She was charged with arson and first-degree intentional homicide. She faces life in prison, if convicted. Her bail was originally set at $1 million before it was reduced to $400,000.
Her bail was paid by the Chrystul Kizer Defense Committee, Chicago Community Bond Fund, Survived & Punished and the Milwaukee Freedom Fund. Sharlyn Grace, Executive Director of the Chicago Community Bond Fund, said Kizer walked free due to “a ton of support” from donors moved by high-profile deaths of Black people.
“She had two big trash bags full of letters with her, in her property,” Grace told Atlanta Black Star on Tuesday morning. As she awaits trial, Kizer is focusing on healing and preparing for her trial.
“The general high-level plan is for her to start building the care and support that she needs to heal,” Grace continued. “She was victimized and harmed in extreme ways, and instead of being offered support and care, she has been in jail for two years.”
Kizer’s release also gives her a legal advantage.
“I know her attorneys are excited about her ability to participate in her own defense now in a more robust way,” Grace said. “Hopefully, this prevents her from being convicted. Whether or not someone is in jail while their case is pending has an impact on whether or not they’re ultimately convicted. People who are free [during] pretrial are less likely to be convicted.”
Once Kizer’s bail money is returned, it will be used to create a fund for Survived & Punished, which serves victims of abuse who have been punished for retaliation against their abusers. Her trial date has not been set.