Netflix’s newest true crime documentary shines a lightweight on the case of Cyntoia Brown – a Nashville girl who was convicted of homicide at the age of simply 16 in 2004, however who was granted clemency in 2019 after serving 15 years of her life sentence.
The documentary paints an image of Brown’s troublesome childhood and highlights some perceived injustices about the authentic trial – together with the incontrovertible fact that regardless of being below the age of 18, Brown was tried as an grownup.
Right here’s the true story behind Murder to Mercy: The Cyntoia Brown Story…
Who is Cyntoia Brown?
Cyntoia was born in Kentucky in 1988 as Cyntoia Denise Mitchell. She was put up for adoption by her beginning mom, Georgina Mitchell, at the age of two – with Mitchell reportedly unable to look after her daughter due to struggling with substance dependancy. Mitchell had additionally reportedly drunk closely throughout her being pregnant, which resulted in Cyntoia being born with fetal alcohol spectrum dysfunction – a situation which might lead to impulsive behaviour and “a disconnect between thought and motion”.
In her early teenagers, Cyntoia discovered herself in hassle with the regulation on a quantity of events – spending time with Tennessee’s Division of Youngsters’s Providers between April 2001 and September 2003 after committing “crimes in opposition to an individual, and crimes in opposition to property”. After repeated makes an attempt to flee, she finally turned a runaway and met Garion L. McGlothen – of whom she was a sufferer of emotional, bodily and sexual abuse. McGlothen, often known as Reduce Throat, compelled her into involuntary prostitution to pay for each of their payments.
What was she accused of?
On August 6, 2004 Cyntoia was reportedly approached for intercourse by 43-year-old Johnny Michael Allen, who provided to pay her $150. Later that evening, police responded to an emergency name and located the physique of Allen, who had been shot in the again of the head.
Cyntoia was charged along with his homicide, with prosecutors arguing that she had been motivated by theft – though she at all times maintained that she had shot him in self-defence after he had grow to be aggressive and had confirmed her his weapons.
What occurred at the authentic trial?
Regardless of being simply 16 at the time of the case, Cyntoia confronted an grownup trial – after Metro Juvenile Court docket Choose Betty Adams Inexperienced argued that it was an excessive amount of of a danger to the group to maintain her in the Juvenile Court docket System.
Cyntoia by no means denied having shot Allen, however claimed that she had noticed him reaching for a gun as they lay in mattress and had acted out of concern for her personal security – though throughout the trial police testified that no gun was discovered below or close to the mattress, whereas it was speculated that Allen might have been asleep when the shot was fired.
Together with different proof – together with the transcript of a cellphone name between Cyntoia and her adopted mom, through which she claimed “executed” Allen – this led to the 16-year-old being discovered responsible of first-degree homicide, felony homicide and aggravated theft, which carried a life sentence.
When did the marketing campaign to launch her begin?
Public consideration was drawn to the case as soon as once more in 2011 when the documentary Me Dealing with Life: Cyntoia’s Story aired on the American public broadcasting community PBS. The movie drew consideration to many elements of the case which had beforehand been missed – together with the want for juvenile justice reform, Cyntoia’s troubled childhood and the abuse that she had confronted, and the prejudicial nature of the first trial which stemmed from Cyntoia being a lady of color working in the intercourse.
The movie attracted the consideration of nationwide lawyer Charles Bone, who took on the case, representing her throughout an enchantment in 2012 and happening to signify her pro-bono for twelve years till her eventual launch.
In 2017, the case entered the worldwide highlight when Rihanna shared her help – main to a slew of high-profile celebrities, together with Lana Del Rey, Kim Kardashian and Cara Delevigne, popping out in help of Cyntoia. A public clemency listening to was held in 2018, with the board initially cut up on their resolution.
When was Cyntoia Brown granted clemency?
After a number of witnesses – together with her former prosecutor Preston Shipp and a few jail workers – testified on her behalf at a public listening to, and with letters and cellphone calls having flooded the Governor’s workplace and social media, Cyntoia was finally launched from jail. Tennessee Governor Invoice Haslam acknowledged: “Imposing a life sentence on a juvenile that might require her to serve a minimum of 51 years earlier than even being eligible for parole consideration is too harsh.”
Following the resolution, in January 2019, Cyntoia stated that she aimed to “reside the relaxation of my life serving to others, particularly younger folks,” including: “My hope is to assist different younger ladies keep away from ending up the place I’ve been.”
In jail, Cyntoia earned her highschool equivalency diploma and an affiliate diploma – whereas she has continued her training following her launch. She additionally married musician and entrepreneur Jaime Lengthy, and now goes by Cyntoia Brown Lengthy.
Murder to Mercy: The Cyntoia Brown Story is accessible to stream on Netflix from Wednesday 29th April