After 12 years in prison, Cyntoia Brown had a clemency hearing on May 23 in Tennessee, which would allow for her release—but now her fate is in limbo.
Brown was 16 years old when she shot and killed Johnny Mitchell Allen, 43, in self-defense. She thought he was reaching for a gun after he tried to solicit her for sex. Brown was convicted of first-degree murder in 2006 after being tried as an adult. However, due to outrage on social media, and attention from Rihanna and Kim Kardashian, her story went viral. A three-hour clemency hearing was held on May 23 in Tennessee and the six-member panel was split.
According to AJC.com, “Two voted to grant her clemency, which would allow for her release; two voted to deny her bid; and two voted to reduce her current life sentence with eligibility of parole after 51 years to a sentence with parole eligibility after 25 years. ”
WKRN reports Brown said at the hearing, “I can’t say that I deserve or I’m entitled to anything because I’m not. I wasn’t even entitled to this hearing. You showed me grace in giving me this hearing. I just pray that you will see through everything that’s been shown today, that I won’t disappoint you. I’m not going to let you down.”
Gov. Bill Haslam will make the final decision on Brown’s clemency request. Haslam is a 59-year-old, Republican white man who has never granted clemency. Haslam is against same-sex marriage and signed a bill in May 2017 to make it difficult for same-sex couples to adopt. He is against abortion. He also is a hard-liner on immigration and signed a bill to de-fund Planned Parenthood.
Haslam doesn’t sound like a humane person. Hopefully, he will be logical and compassionate for a 16-year-old girl who was targeted by a sexual predator.