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Lawyers For Woman Who Killed Pimp Want AG To Take Position in Case

Aired 4/23/12 on KPBS News.

Attorney General Kamala Harris has asked that the Sara Kruzan case be returned to Riverside County Superior Court.

Earlier this year, prosecutors agreed to reduce Sara Kruzan’s first-degree mu...
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Above: Earlier this year, prosecutors agreed to reduce Sara Kruzan’s first-degree murder charge to second-degree, which made her eligible for parole.

Lawyers for Sara Kruzan - who is in prison for killing her pimp when she was 16 - want California Attorney General Kamala Harris to take a position in the case.

Attorney General Harris recently withdrew two previous positions her office had taken in the Kruzan case.

The office retracted an earlier stance that Kruzan's request for release or a new trial lacks merit. Harris also took back her assertion that Kruzan's relationship with her pimp was at best professional and financial, and at worst criminal.

But the attorney general has not offered a replacement position in the matter, despite orders from the California Supreme Court.

Instead, Harris wants the Kruzan case returned to Riverside County Superior Court for further development of the case's facts. Kruzan was convicted of premeditated murder in 1995 by a jury in Riverside County Superior Court. Kruzan, who was 16 at the time, was sentenced as an adult to life without the possibility of parole even though the California Youth Authority thought she could be rehabilitated and should be released at age 25. A Riverside court also denied Kruzan's petition for a new trial in 2010.

Kruzan's lawyers are against returning the case to Riverside County. They have told the state Supreme Court that the attorney general's refusal to take two key positions in the case is skirting the process.

"The Attorney General seeks to transfer venue of this matter to a court that summarily denied Sara's petition once, and does so without ever having to take a position in this Court," her lawyers wrote. "The Attorney General should not be allowed to circumvent the clear jurisdiction of this Court by having the action returned to Riverside County."

Kruzan, who spent part of her childhood in San Diego, is 34 and has been in prison for the last 17 years. She had earned a college degree in prison and was named as Woman of the Year in 2009 by correctional officers.

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Avatar for user 'nay99'

nay99 | April 25, 2012 at 4:55 a.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago

Though it certainly wouldn't hurt to have General Harris come out and say Ms. Kruzan should be freed or given a new trial, doesn't her ruling make her position very clear? I applaud General Harris for the courage to reverse her legal stance. Actions speak louder than words.

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Avatar for user 'judgesmails_1'

judgesmails_1 | April 25, 2012 at 10:31 a.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago

This is bush league reporting at its absolute worst. Shame on you KPBS. This “piece” recklessly suggests that Kruzan killed her pimp as based on intimate partner battering syndrome (IBS). Let’s break that down: IBS is a legally recognized type of self-defense - simply put, you can kill your domestic partner and then present the defense that you only did so because you feared the next beating. The text book example is the battered woman who shoots her abusive husband in the head as he sleeps. This is a law that is smart and makes sense. However, significantly, the killer’s action must be premised on his or her fear of the victim. Here, Kruzan specifically, expressly and unequivocally testified at her trial that she killed the victim, her pimp, because she feared an absent third party drug dealer who was the one who gave her the loaded gun and ordered her to execute the pimp. And, the drug dealer threatened Kruzan that he would kill her at some undisclosed time and location if she failed to follow the order. Unfortunately for Kruzan, it has been firmly established by the California Supreme Court that you can’t kill another to save yourself from a threatening third party, especially an absent one. Having been involved in the case at the Riverside County District Attorney’s office many years ago, I have followed the present case closely, and have thoroughly reviewed all of the briefing, I say shame on you Amita Sharma. Your reporting is poor as it thoroughly misrepresents the facts and the relevant legal issues. I expected more from KPBS. Finally, the real crime here is that Kruzan was charged as an adult and sentenced to life in prison under these circumstances. She has served her time and should be freed. Nobody disputes that. But, KPBS has a duty to be honest with the facts. Isn’t that the difference with KPBS and Doug Manchester’s abomination of a “paper”? The reporting here is an embarrassment to the KPBS organization.

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Avatar for user 'Studying_Nomad'

Studying_Nomad | April 25, 2012 at 11:04 a.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago

Agreeing with judge on this one.

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Avatar for user 'estrella'

estrella | April 25, 2012 at 7:49 p.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago

judge, you may know something and you may not. but your tortured legalistic reasoning has no meaning. This is a girl who was trafficked at age 11, raped and put on the street at 13- this is what is known as being a VICTIM not a perpetrator. no matter what the circumstances around the killing of GG, she was a desperate juvenile,and did the only thing she could do to escape this nightmare of a life she'd had. She should never have been prosecuted, much less sent to prison.

And here is what you do not know: Sara Kruzan is one of the most wonderful women in the world, a beautiful soul with a big heart and unstoppable determination. She has completely triumphed over that wretched life she had and become a well respected leader. She has been an inspiration to me, as she has been to everyone who knows her.

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Avatar for user 'nay99'

nay99 | April 26, 2012 at 8:04 a.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago

What I don't understand is why this matters anyway? Maybe someone can enlighten me. Who cares if she was a domestic partner? Which she clearly wasn't, how can a child be a domestic partner to a 30 something year old pimp?

She clearly was a child with limited wherewithal, under horrible circumstances and under constant fear and abuse from lowlife adults, who were exploiting her. Why can't the focus be on an unfair trial and conviction and the fact that she is rehabilitated, eligible for parole and should be released?

Don't get me wrong, if I was on a jury and the only way to release her would be to say she was a domestic partner, then I would say that. She clearly is a victim as well.

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Avatar for user 'estrella'

estrella | April 27, 2012 at 4:19 p.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago

Her lawyers are right. Sara needs her freedom now. No more courts, no more arguments. If Harris wants credit for supporting anti trafficking bills, she needs to show us she knows what it is. To help her along, let me try to explain:
child sex trafficking is what happened to Sara Kruzan. any more questions?

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