Tennessee Gov. gives statement on plea for clemency after Cyntoia Brown's story goes viral
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) —
A spokesperson for Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam said on Tuesday that legal counsel has not filed an application for clemency on behalf of Cyntoia Brown, whose case has gained national attention since a recent FOX 17 News investigation.
Cyntoia Brown is a child sex slave who is currently jailed in Nashville for killing the man who used her. Brown was bought for sex at the young age of 16 by a 43-year-old Nashville real-estate agent, whom she later killed.
The jury sentenced Brown under the law at the time giving her life in prison. She’d only be eligible for parole is after serving 51 years. She would be 67.
A documentary from Filmmaker Dan Birman helped stir awareness about Brown's story by following her case for seven years.
“I'm glad we were able to start that conversation," Birman said. "How this turns out that's going to be for lawyers, judges, governor and others to figure out.”
There are now plenty who want her set free. It’s a very dedicated group of people working on a clemency campaign for Cyntoia. They want the Governor and the Parole Board to really look at the unique factors of her case. Unique factors like the work she's done behind bars for years, long before anyone floated the idea of clemency.
A spokesperson for Gov. Haslam said in a statement that the legal office has not seen an application for clemency filed on behalf of Brown as of last week.
"While applications initially go to the Board of Parole, the governor’s legal office is aware of the Cyntoia Brown case should an application be filed. (As of last week, we are not aware of an application being submitted to BOP in the Brown case.) In general, a person seeking clemency or his or her attorney would file an application with the Board of Parole, which after conducting a review, makes a recommendation to the governor for consideration."
Support for Cyntoia
The hashtag #FreeCyntoiaBrown went viral after posts from Kim Kardashian West, Rihanna and others. Since then, thousands of others have also taken to social media to support the cause. In a previous interview, Brown's pro bono attorney said Brown is shocked about the outpouring of national support for her.
“I talked to Cyntoia about noon today," Charles Bone said. "She's very shocked and surprised and thankful as we all are for the interest of these celebrities. In today's world, we never know…when you're going to do a story that lights a fire.
“Just to see all the people and all the different organizations who believe in me and who want to stand up for me, it's humbling and mind blowing," Brown said.
Prosecutor disagrees with clemency
Jeff Burks, The prosecutor back then, says clemency supporters have it all wrong. He works in Georgia now.
"There has been a group of people who have wanted to make Ms. Brown a victim and a celebrity since this happened," Brown wrote to Fox 17 News. "She was not 'trafficked' nor was she a 'sex slave.' It's not fair to the victim and his family that the other side of this case is so seldom heard."
Watch FOX 17 Anchor Stacy Case's full report on Cyntoia Brown below: