Sara Kruzan Released From Prison 18 Years After Killing Pimp As Teen
Thursday, October 31, 2013
From the day Sara Kruzan walked into prison in 1995, with a life sentence at age 16 for killing her 36-year-old pimp in Riverside, freedom was a long shot.
Aired 11/1/13 on KPBS News.
Sara Kruzan left the Central California Women’s Prison in Chowchilla early Thursday morning. Her release was a triumphant moment after a lengthy, uphill legal fight.
She had already been denied the possibility of parole, though the California Youth Authority believed she could be rehabilitated and released at age 25. And a Riverside court rejected Kruzan’s petition for a new trial, even though her defense attorney never introduced testimony about her abusive upbringing, including the fact that her pimp molested her at age 11, and raped her at 13.
Her appeals lawyer, Ron McIntire, said the tide turned when then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger commuted her sentence to 25 years with the possibility of parole. The case got another boost when the California Supreme Court granted Kruzan's petition to show cause of why she shouldn't be released.
"Between the governor's order and the supreme court's order, we had a lot to use with the Riverside district attorney in terms of negotiating her sentence down from first-degree to second-degree," McIntire said.
Earlier this year, prosecutors agreed to reduce Kruzan’s first-degree murder charge to second-degree, which made her eligible for parole. Early Thursday morning, Kruzan left the Central California Women’s Prison in Chowchilla. McIntire said Kruzan now is happily ensconced in an Orange County apartment and in a program to help re-integrate her back into society.