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Cyntoia Brown, trafficking victim serving life for murder, gets clemency hearing

At 16, she said she killed a 43-year-old man in self-defense after he solicited her for sex

In recent months, social media has reignited the controversial case of Cyntoia Brown, a sex trafficking victim serving a life sentence for killing her john. Now she’s been granted a clemency hearing for May. 

» RELATED: Here's why people are talking about Cyntoia Brown 13 years after she was sentenced to life in prison for murder

During the hearing, a governor-appointed board will review Brown’s petitions and determine whether she should be released from the Tennessee Prison for Women. 

This will be her first hearing since she was convicted of first-degree murder in 2006.

At age 16, Brown said she killed 43-year-old Johnny Mitchell Allen in self-defense after he solicited her for sex. She shot him after she thought he was reaching for a gun.

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Although the trial concluded more than 10 years ago, many have recently cast it back into the spotlight with the viral hashtag #FreeCyntoiaBrown.

» RELATED: Who is Bresha Meadows? 16-year-old, who killed her allegedly abusive father, released from custody

Several, including Rihanna and Kim Kardashian, have shared a post that reads, “Imagine at the age of 16 being sex-trafficked by a pimp named ‘cut-throat.’ After days of being repeatedly drugged and raped by different men you were purchased by a 43 year old child predator...You end up finding enough courage to fight back and shoot and kill him...This is the story of Cyntoia Brown...#FreeCyntoniaBrown.”

PBS highlighted Brown’s story in 2011 with a documentary titled “Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story.” The film detailed her life as a teen and the day of the fatal shooting of Allen. 

Her clemency hearing is scheduled for May 23 in Tennessee. 

» RELATED: Facebook posts about child sex trafficking can do more harm than good, experts say

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