Governor Pardons Woman 27 Years After She Killed Her Abuser and Trafficker When She was Just 16

Governor Pardons Woman 27 Years After She Killed Her Abuser and Trafficker When She was Just 16

Sara Kruzan shot the man who abused and trafficked her when she was a teen in 1994.

Sara Kruzan was only 16 years old when she shot George Gilbert Howard in a motel room in 1994. Howard was the man who abused and trafficked her when she was a teenager. A year later, she was sentenced to life in prison for first-degree murder, and a four-year consecutive firearm enhancement was added to the life sentence, per a copy of the pardon obtained by CNN. The presiding judge had ordered the then 17-year-old to be tried as an adult and barred her attorney from introducing evidence at the trial of her abuse by Howard in the past, Los Angeles Times reports. Later, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger commuted her sentence to 25 years to life with the possibility of parole in 2010. She was later paroled in 2013 and released from prison after she served 18 years in prison.



Lenore Anderson, founder of Californians for Safety and Justice, said that “it’s frankly outrageous that she was convicted for the length of time in the first place, given the long history of abuse and trafficking. Sara is one of many thousands of youths who are exploited, sexually and commercially, who find themselves in the defendant’s seat when it’s more than obvious that the extreme abuse that they were suffering is what was underneath the crime,” she said.



On July 1st, Kruzan was granted clemency by Gov. Gavin Newsom. In his pardon, he said that Kruzan had "provided evidence that she is living an upright life and has demonstrated her fitness for restoration of civic rights and responsibilities. Since then, Ms. Kruzan has transformed her life and dedicated herself to community service. This act of clemency for Ms. Kruzan does not minimize or forgive her conduct or the harm it caused. It does recognize the work she has done since to transform herself."



Unfortunately, despite the pardon Kruzan is still a convicted felon in the state of California, reports PEOPLE. Her legal team has sent a formal request to the Riverside County district attorney's office to review the case and overturn her conviction. Kruzan told the Los Angeles Times that she felt a sense of relief when she heard the governor’s decision, “releasing these invisible chains that I didn’t realize were still taloned in (me).” The mother-of-one hopes her story will  “have a ripple effect for others who identify with different elements of what I experienced.” She noted that the justice system lacked understanding "the complex and compounded trauma, and it’s not just my case, because anyone who has any direct impact with the system has been impacted by trauma. Now she's looking forward to moving on with her life and continuing to heal. “Do I wanna move forward with love? Or do I wanna move forward with fear, anger and pain?” added Kruzan. “Now, I wanna move forward in love. And that takes a lot of courage to do that." Kruzan also shared her story in her memoir, I Cried to Dream Again earlier this year.


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