An agreement was announced in a California court Friday in the case of Sara Kruzan, 35, who was sentenced to life without parole at age 17 for killing her abusive pimp. Under the agreement–which was a long time in the making–Sara is now convicted of second-degree murder with a sentence of 19 years to life. Previously, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger commuted Sara’s sentence to 25 years to life. Sara, who’s already served 19 years in prison, would become eligible for parole after serving 25. Under the new agreement, she becomes eligible now, but, attorneys say, a parole hearing may not happen for six months. A hearing doesn’t guarantee release, but may give new found hope to a woman whose incarceration has drawn the attention of celebrities and human rights groups.
At age 11, Sara was a good student with a troubled home life: her mother was addicted to drugs and her father was absent. In need of a parental figure, Sara met a 31-year-old man named G.G., who began buying her gifts and taking her and her friends out. G.G. spent two years establishing himself as a father figure in Sara’s life and earning her trust, but then, when she was 13, he raped her. Soon, Sara was just one of several girls working for G.G. as a prostitute: the time he had spent showering her with gifts had merely been “grooming” her for prostitution, a small investment in comparison to the profits turned in the sex trade. On March 10, 1994, after three years of being subjected to strange men for twelve hours every night, 16-year-old Sara made a fatal decision. Finding herself in a Riverside, Calif., motel room with G.G., Sara shot him in the neck with a pistol. She stole $1,500 and the keys to his Jaguar. She left her purse at the motel, though, which led to her arrest four days later and subsequent confession. At her trial, Sara testified to the abuse she endured, and said a rival pimp threatened to kill her if she didn’t kill G.G. Prosecutors offered Sara a plea which would have given her the possibility of parole, but she turned it down against her lawyer’s advice, was convicted and sentenced to life without parole. The judge who handed down Sara’s sentence told her she had “no moral scruple” to kill G.G. on the orders of another pimp. Incarcerated at the Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla, Calif.
Her case has brought significant attention to the practice of sentencing juveniles who commit murder to life without parole. Among those involved in her cause are actress Demi Moore, who shared a video interview with Kruzan (seen here) on her Twitter account in 2009.