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TN Supreme Court: Cyntoia Brown could be free after 51 years

Photo: Cyntoia Brown-FOX 17 News Nashville

The Tennessee Supreme Court has issued a ruling saying that Cyntoia Brown must serve a minimum of 51 years in prison for murdering a Nashville man when she was 16 years old.

Cyntoia Denise Brown was tried as an adult in criminal court for the first-degree premeditated murder and first-degree felony murder of Johnny Allen.

Advocates for Cyntoia Brown say she was a sex trafficked teenager and that she was a child destined for despair the night she shot and killed Allen. Allen was 43 at the time and Brown was 16. She received a life sentence.

Now, the Tennessee Supreme Court issued an opinion saying that Brown must serve at least 51 years in prison for Allen's murder.

"The Sixth Circuit requested the Tennessee Supreme Court to answer the question of whether a defendant convicted of first-degree murder committed on or after July 1, 1995, and sentenced to life in prison will become eligible for release and, if so, after how many years of imprisonment. Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 23 permits the Court to answer requests that involve questions of Tennessee law that are determinative of the cause of action and about which there is no controlling Tennessee precedent.

In today’s unanimous decision, the Tennessee Supreme Court explained that, under state law, a life sentence is a determinate sentence of 60 years. However, the sixty-year sentence can be reduced by up to 15 percent, or 9 years, by earning various sentence credits. Therefore, the Supreme Court concluded that a defendant serving a life sentence for a first-degree murder committed on or after July 1, 1995, may be eligible for release after serving at least 51 years of the sentence."

Back in May, a state board was split on whether to allow clemency for Brown after hours of emotional testimony.

Brown's quest for clemency has received support from stars such as Kim Kardashian West and Rihanna.

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