UPDATED: 4:25 p.m. EST, April 15
Cyntoia Brown has released a statement distancing herself from the Netflix documentary “Murder to Mercy: The Cyntoia Brown Story”, saying the project was unauthorized.
“While I was still incarcerated, a producer who has old footage of me made a deal with Netflix for an UNAUTHORIZED documentary, set to be released soon,” she explained on Instagram and Twitter. “My husband and I were as surprised as everyone else when we first heard the news because we did not participate in any way.”
She finished by saying, “However, I am currently in the process of sharing my story, in the right way, in full detail, and in a way that depicts and respects the woman I am today. While I pray that this film highlights things wrong in our justice system, I had nothing to do with this documentary.”
Cyntoia Brown‘s experience with the criminal justice system will be detailed in a new Netflix documentary called “Murder to Mercy: The Cyntoia Brown Story.” The trailer was released Wednesday.
In 2004, Brown was convicted of killing Johnny Mitchell Allen after he picked her up and took her to his home when she was only 16. Brown, who now goes by Cyntoia Brown Long due to her marriage to musician Jaime Long, was a victim of child sex trafficking. She says that she shot and killed Allen, a stranger, out of self-defense when she thought he was reaching for his gun. She proceeded to grab two of his guns and some money from his wallet to flee the scene in his truck.
A jury didn’t agree with Brown’s argument that she was acting out of self-defense, and she was convicted on murder and aggravated robbery charges. She was sentenced to life in prison in 2006 and would not have been eligible for parole until she reached her late 60s. In January 2019, however, after more attention was brought to her story by people like Rihanna and Kim Kardashian, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam commuted her sentence and she’s now out on supervised parole for 10 years.
The Netflix doc will cover Brown’s life — from running away from home, to suffering physical and sexual abuse, to shooting Allen. The movie will also follow the support for her case that followed and how national support eventually led to her release. The documentary is directed and produced by Daniel H. Birman, who previously released another project about Brown in 2011 called “Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story”, which was apart of the “Independent Lens” documentary series.
Ever since Brown was released from prison on Aug. 7, 2019, after serving 15 years, the now 31-year-old has been spreading awareness about sex trafficking and her court case. Brown said that for a long time she didn’t consider herself a victim. According to her, she was forced into sex trafficking by an abusive boyfriend nicknamed “Cut Throat,” who also sexually assaulted her.
Now, Brown emphasizes that many women in prison share her narrative and deserve compassion. She told news anchor Lester Holt on “NBC Nightly News” that “The women who helped me get to this point, they’re still in prison for 51 years and up with ridiculous sentences, and they don’t have hope right now.”
She added, “The system strips them of any personhood, of any voice. And I feel like in seeing me you’re able to see them, because they’re just like me.”
While incarcerated, Brown received her associate degree and bachelor’s degree at Lipscomb University in Nashville. She released a memoir last year called “Free Cyntoia: My Search for Redemption in the American Prison System.”
The Netflix documentary is supposed to hit the streaming service on April 29th. You can check out the trailer below.