NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has one month left in office, and he’s said publicly he will make a decision on whether to grant Cyntoia Brown clemency before his term is up.
But as he granted 11 prisoners their freedom through pardons and clemency on Friday, he did not address Brown’s case at all.
Circa partner WZTV continues to keep an eye on the growing international scope of the “Free Cyntoia Brown” movement which all started with the station’s exclusive year-long investigation of the case.
Protests at Gov. Haslam’s events and now new coverage of the Cyntoia Brown case on CNN International emerged this week.
The calls for clemency for Cyntoia Brown hit a fevered pitch in the final month of the governor’s term. CNN International used WZTV evening news anchor Stacy Case as an expert in its worldwide coverage this week.
In the CNN International report, Case said, “If Cyntoia Brown were tried today, the legal experts say she would not have been tried in the same way.”
Brown’s attorneys say the then-16-year-old was scared and killed a 43-year-old man, Johnny Allen, who bought her for sex.
In a previous interview, Brown’s pro bono attorney said, “Then he sent her out on the street with a gun to sell her body to a 43-year-old man when she was 16 years old. It’s the most tragic story you could ever understand.”
In previous court appearances, Cyntoia Brown testifies, “The first time he did something to me was when he choked me and I passed out.”
Brown previously testified, “He rolls over and reaches like he’s reaching to the side of the bed for something, so I’m thinking no, he’s not fixing to hit me. He’s going to grab a gun. What did you do? I grabbed a gun and I shot him.”
Those who don’t want her set free say she killed Johnny Allen only to rob him.
Anna Whaley, a longtime friend of Johnny Allen, defended him in a previous interview, “No, he was not reaching for anything. This is how he was when he was shot at close range in the back of the head. His hands clasped together like this.”
WZTV coverage of Brown’s plight first went viral in November 2017 attracting the attention of celebrities like Rihanna and LeBron James.
Just this week, comedian and actress Amy Schumer took to Twitter asking the governor to set Cyntoia Brown free.
A MoveOn.org petition also took root. It calls for her release and has more than 600,000 signatures on an international stand.
Cyntoia Brown is sentenced to life in prison and has now served more than 15 years.
She’s told the parole board during her clemency hearing that she’s paid her debt to society for murdering Johnny Allen. She tells WZTV she wants to work outside prison walls to help other young girls being sex trafficked. She’s already doing that work inside prison and has earned her college degree.
The governor’s office says, “The governor and his legal counsel are currently reviewing numerous clemency applications, including Cyntoia Brown’s.”