California Governor Gavin Newsom has pardoned a woman who was sentenced to life in prison for killing her abuser at the age of 16.
Sara Kruzan shot and killed George Gilbert Howard in 1995. According to Kruzan, Howard, whom she met when she was 11, trafficked her and abused her for years.
The 31-year-old man had been forcing her to have sex with multiple men a day. Howard would also sexually abuse the young teen, until one day she had enough. At 16-years-old, Kruzan fatally shot Howard in a cheap motel they were staying at.
Kruzan fled the scene, terrified after shooting a gun, but left behind her purse. She was arrested shortly after and charged with first-degree murder. The following year, at just 17-years-old, Kruzan she was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
In 2010, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger commuted her sentence to 25 years to life and added a petition for parole acceptance. In 2013 during a re-sentencing, the judge lowered it to 13 years to life, allowing her to be immediately eligible for parole.
Kruzan was released shortly after. She had spent 18 years of her life behind bars.
Since overcoming her obstacles, Kruzan has become an advocate for victims of human trafficking. She constantly calls for policy reform and justice for victims who are facing criminal charges.
Despite receiving clemency and being released from prison, Kruzan was determined to obtain a pardon, noting that her criminal background continues to cause problems in her everyday life.
On Friday, Kruzan was pardoned by Governor Newsom, along with 17 others who were also granted clemency.