Cyntoia Brown, the woman who became a celebrity after a conviction for killing a man while claiming to be a victim of sex trafficking, was released on Wednesday morning after serving 15 years in prison.
Brown, 31, who was commuted to life in prison, was convicted in 2006 of killing Johnny Allen, a 43-year-old real estate agent, in Nashville, Tennessee. According to investigators, Brown shot Allen in the back of the head with a gun he brought to steal from him after he picked her up to have sex with her in exchange for money. But Brown maintains that she shot him out of fear.
Brown said a pimp nicknamed "Cut Throat" forced her into prostitution and verbally and physically abused her after she ran away from her adoptive family in 2004.
At the trial, Brown's attorneys said she was a victim of sex trafficking and argued that she lacked mental capacity since her mother drank alcohol while Brown was in the womb.
But in January, then-Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam granted him a pardon after several celebrities, including Kim Kardashian and Rihanna, pressed for his release.
Haslam said it was too harsh a sentence for a crime Brown admitted to having committed as a teenager, especially given the steps he has taken to rebuild his life: He earned his high school equivalent diploma and completed University studies while incarcerated.
"I thank the Governor and First Lady Haslam for their vote of confidence in me and with the Lord's help I will make them, as well as the rest of my followers, feel proud," Brown said in a statement released Monday.
Brown will remain under parole supervision, on the condition that he does not violate any state or federal law, has a job, and participates in regular counseling sessions.
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