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New Deal Allows Sara Kruzan To Seek Parole In 1995 Murder Case

Sara Kruzan, who was sentenced to life in prison without parole for killing her pimp when she was 16, now has a shot at freedom.

Aired 1/21/13 on KPBS News.

Sara Kruzan, who was sentenced to life in prison without parole for killing her pimp when she was 16, now has a shot at freedom.

Judge Gary Tranbarger signed off on a settlement that reduces Kruzan's first degree murder conviction to second degree murder. With that reduction, Kruzan now heads to the parole board, which will decide whether she should go free.

Kruzan, 35, has spent the last 19 years in prison. At her 1995 trial, her defense attorney never called a witness to testify about the documented abuse she suffered at the hands of her mother or the intimate partner battery she encountered by her pimp. The pimp, GG Howard, molested her when she was 11 and raped and forced her into prostitution at 13. Her aunt Anne Rogan of San Diego said outside the courtroom she still can't believe Sara may be free soon.

"I am ecstatic," Rogan said. "I am just so overfilled with joy. I never thought it would actually happen."

Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach, whose office had previously opposed efforts to correct an initial sentencing error in Kruzan's case, called the settlement fair to the people and to the defense. But he took issue with scores of advocates who have rallied around Kruzan calling her a sex trafficking victim.

"I don't think it's a human trafficking case," Zellerbach said. "It was a cold blooded murder. She had a difficult childhood with the issues she was raised with."

Kruzan's attorney Ron McIntire believes her chances of being released from prison are good because of the time she has served and her outside support. The prosecution, as part of the agreement, will not oppose parole.

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