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AG’s Argument Challenged By Woman Who Killed Her Pimp

Sara Kruzan killed her pimp when she was 16 and has spent more than half her life in prison. And California Attorney General Kamala Harris wants to keep her there.

Sara Kruzan was convicted as a teenager of killing her pimp. California's attorney general is fighting her request for a new trial.

After reviewing Kruzan's petition for a new trial on grounds of inadequate defense, the state Supreme Court asked Harris's office to explain whether the woman was a victim of domestic violence.

The attorney general responded that Kruzan's relationship with the pimp, G.G. Howard, was at best a matter of commerce; at worst she was the child victim of his sexual assault. Either way, the AG says, Kruzan is not entitled to a domestic-abuse defense.

But Kruzan's attorneys today called that reasoning tortuous.

In a written response, Kruzan's attorneys noted she was first abused by Howard shortly after meeting him when she was 11. Two years later, they note, Howard raped her and forced her into prostitution. After three years turning tricks for Howard, the girl reached her limit and killed him in 1995, her attorneys relate in their response.

Kruzan, her attorneys note, thought of Howard as her man and he referred to his prostitutes as his wives. That makes it a case of domestic abuse and means Kruzan should have been able to put on expert testimony to that effect -- testimony that jurors never heard. It's a matter of law and moral decency, they write.

It's not certain when the state Supreme Court might rule on Kruzan's request for a new trial.


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Amita Sharma
Investigative Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksAs an investigative reporter for KPBS, I've helped expose political scandals and dug into intractable issues like sex trafficking. I've raised tough questions about how government treats foster kids. I've spotlighted the problem of pollution in poor neighborhoods. And I've chronicled corporate mistakes and how the public sometimes ends up paying for them.

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