‘We could not have gotten a better decision,’ head of Harvard Law School’s gender violence programme says
A child sex-trafficking victim accused of murder has won an appeal in the US that paves the way for trafficking to be used as a defence in her case.
Crystul Kizer, now aged 20, is charged with the murder of her alleged sex trafficker. She claims she shot and killed him several years ago in self defence after being abused for a year.
She has won an appeal into the case which would allow her to present evidence to show her actions were a “direct result” of trafficking she experienced, according to The Washington Post.
Ms Kizer has been charged with first-degree intentional murder, which carries a mandatory life sentence in Wisconsin.
Her appeal has been centred around “affirmative defence” for sex trafficking victims and which was denied to Ms Kizer by a court in 2019.
Under this law that applies in most states, the defendant can be cleared of certain charges – such as prostitution, theft and drug possesion – if they can prove that they committed a crime due to abuse experienced.
A judge previously ruled Wisconsin’ affirmative defence law would not apply to Ms Kizer. The judge did not believe it would apply to sex trafficking victims accused of violent crimes.
The appeals court has now reversed this order.
In its ruling, it said that a successful affirmative defence would operate as “a complete defence” to the first-degree murder charge and not simply reduce the charge to second-degree intentional homicide.
Ms Kizer was able to leave jail last year after nearly two years inside after activists raised enough money to cover her bail.
She is accused of the murder of Randall Volar, who she met aged 16 while he was 33 years old.
It is alleged he spent a year sexually abusing her while giving her money and gifts.
Mr Volar had been accused of abusing multiple underage black girls and arrested, but had been released on bail.
Ms Kizer said she shot Mr Volar in the head while he was trying to pin her down on the floor in 2018. She is accused of setting the house on fire and fleeing.
She has been charged with both arson and first-degree intentional homicide.
After the appeal verdict, Diane Rosenfeld, director of Harvard Law School’s gender violence programme, who was involved in her legal case, told The Washington Post: “We could not have gotten a better decision.”
“If the state had taken more seriously what Volar was doing, not only to Chrystul but to all these other girls, arguably Chrystul wouldn’t have been in this position,” she added.