A murderer has just been pardoned in California — and when you hear her story you might be surprised it took so long.
Sara Kruzan was convicted of murder at just 16 years old. The young girl shot and killed a man named George Gilbert Howard in a Riverside, California motel during a robbery in 1994. However, she soon revealed the man had sexually abused and trafficked her — from the time she was just 13!
Despite these revelations, she was tried as an adult, eventually convicted of murder, and sentenced to life in prison.
Sara spent a total of 18 years behind bars. After years of activists working to get her case reviewed, in 2011 then-California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger commuted her sentence, followed by Governor Jerry Brown releasing her in 2013. Her conviction still stood, but she was no longer confined to the walls of a prison cell.
Now current California Governor Gavin Newsom has righted what many see as a great wrong and officially pardoned Sara, explaining that she “provided evidence that she is living an upright life and has demonstrated her fitness for restoration of civic rights and responsibilities.” He added:
“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.”
Newsom’s pardon did not overturn Sara’s conviction — it just cleared her of some of the consequences that come along with having a conviction like hers. As of now, Sara is still a convicted felon in the state of California.
However, Sara’s legal team is requesting the Riverside County district attorney’s office to review her case and fully overturn her conviction, which would clear Sara’s criminal record entirely!
That would be a dream come true for Sara, who is very obviously in a much different place now at age 44 than she was in her teens.
As for Sara herself, she explained to the Los Angeles Times that her pardon has released “these invisible chains that I didn’t realize were still taloned in me.” What a liberating feeling, we’re sure.
“Do I wanna move forward with love? Or do I wanna move forward with fear, anger and pain? Now, I wanna move forward in love. And that takes a lot of courage to do that.”
What do YOU think of Sara’s case? Should her conviction be overturned? Let us know your thoughts in the comments (below).
[Images via Tamron Hall Show/YouTube]
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