Cyntoia Brown must serve 51 years before she's eligible for release, Tennessee Supreme Court says

A woman who was 16 when she killed a Nashville man who solicited her for sex must serve at least 51 years in...

Posted: Dec 9, 2018 2:08 PM
Updated: Dec 9, 2018 2:08 PM

A woman who was 16 when she killed a Nashville man who solicited her for sex must serve at least 51 years in prison before she's eligible for release, according to the Tennessee Supreme Court.

On Thursday the court said defendants like Cyntoia Brown, who are convicted of first-degree murder committed after July 1, 1995, and sentenced to life imprisonment, can't become eligible for release from prison before serving more than five decades.

Corrections system

Crime, law enforcement and corrections

Crimes against persons

Criminal law

Criminal offenses

Decisions and rulings

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Homicide

Human rights

Human rights violations

Human trafficking

International relations and national security

Law and legal system

Murder

Politics

Prisons and jails

Sentencing

Slavery

State Supreme Court

Trial and procedure

US state governments

Government organizations - US

US federal court system

US federal government

US Supreme Court

Amnesty and pardons

The court's five justices were unanimous in their decision against Brown, who was convicted of killing a 43-year-old man in 2004 when he took her to his house for sex. Brown has said she killed him after she feared he would kill her.

Thursday's ruling came in response to a lawsuit in which Brown argues her sentence is unconstitutional, citing a 2012 opinion by the US Supreme Court that said mandatory life sentences without parole for juvenile offenders violate the US Constitution.

The Tennessee Supreme Court explained in a statement 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."

According to the Tennessee code, those credits include recognition for good behavior or participation in educational or vocational training programs

A district court previously denied Brown's motion, per court documents, pointing out she hadn't been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole -- just a life sentence.

The case is pending judgment by the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which asked the Tennessee Supreme Court to share its opinion.

Parole board split on clemency

More than a decade after sentencing, Brown's case caught the attention of A-list celebrities like Rihanna and Kim Kardashian West who began advocating for mercy. Her story spread on social media using the hashtag #FreeCyntoiaBrown.

Brown says she was forced into prostitution after a difficult childhood. At her trial, she said her victim, Johnny Mitchell Allen, solicited her for sex and drove her to his house.

There, Brown saw a gun cabinet in Allen's room, she said during her trial. She resisted him until he appeared to reach under the bed, at which point she believed he was going to kill her. Brown took a gun out of her purse and shot Allen, killing him.

Brown was tried as an adult.

In a clemency hearing in May, the Tennessee Board of Parole was split on its recommendation to Gov. Bill Haslam. Two of the six member voted to grant clemency, two to deny it, and two to make her eligible for parole after 25 years.

Prosecutors at that hearing said Brown killed Allen to rob him, not to defend herself.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misspelled the last name of victim Johnny Mitchell Allen.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 16769

Reported Deaths: 803
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds110426
Madison77829
Lauderdale76569
Neshoba73945
Jones70933
Scott66312
Forrest60039
DeSoto59310
Rankin4639
Leake45512
Holmes44431
Copiah3344
Jackson31415
Attala31218
Yazoo2985
Newton2924
Oktibbeha28314
Leflore28238
Lincoln28131
Wayne2803
Monroe26925
Harrison2687
Lamar2525
Lowndes2529
Pearl River21231
Pike20411
Adams20416
Warren19910
Washington1998
Lee1978
Noxubee1956
Covington1832
Bolivar16911
Jasper1684
Clarke15619
Smith15611
Lafayette1564
Kemper15611
Chickasaw14314
Coahoma1324
Clay1254
Winston1241
Carroll11911
Marion1169
Claiborne1165
Yalobusha1116
Grenada1104
Lawrence1071
Simpson1050
Sunflower963
Tate931
Hancock9012
Marshall893
Union897
Itawamba897
Webster885
Panola873
Wilkinson859
Montgomery841
Jefferson Davis823
Tippah7611
Calhoun684
Walthall670
Amite651
Humphreys647
Tunica583
Prentiss533
Choctaw522
Perry513
Pontotoc493
Jefferson421
Tishomingo360
Stone320
Quitman320
Tallahatchie311
Greene301
George302
Franklin292
Alcorn191
Benton140
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 19387

Reported Deaths: 676
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2341123
Jefferson1927105
Montgomery190544
Tuscaloosa85316
Marshall7149
Franklin5939
Lee56334
Shelby53619
Tallapoosa43566
Butler43121
Walker3973
Elmore38110
Chambers36326
Madison3594
Unassigned3144
Morgan3141
Baldwin2969
Dallas2963
Lowndes26912
Etowah26512
DeKalb2603
Autauga2485
Coffee2401
Sumter2369
Houston2275
Pike2231
Bullock2197
Colbert1972
Hale19210
Russell1870
Barbour1831
Marengo1796
Lauderdale1752
Calhoun1693
Cullman1631
Wilcox1587
Choctaw15310
Clarke1492
St. Clair1372
Randolph1288
Dale1250
Marion12511
Talladega1215
Pickens1215
Limestone1100
Chilton1081
Greene955
Macon944
Winston920
Jackson863
Henry842
Covington831
Crenshaw803
Escambia793
Bibb761
Washington746
Blount641
Lawrence510
Monroe492
Geneva450
Perry430
Conecuh421
Coosa401
Cherokee383
Clay282
Lamar280
Fayette160
Cleburne151
Tupelo
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 79°
Columbus
Broken Clouds
75° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 75°
Oxford
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 75°
Starkville
Broken Clouds
72° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 72°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather