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Woman Who Killed Her Pimp At 16 Will Be Released 19 Years Later

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Note from the editors: On November 21, 2013 we discovered the post below did not follow our standard practice for attribution, which is to quote and link to original sources. The source in question is The Christian Post. The editor responsible is no longer working for LAist, and we are reviewing each of her other posts and will issue corrections if we discover any other errors.

Gov. Jerry Brown has decided to allow freedom to a Riverside woman who received a life sentence for killing her pimp in 1994.

Brown did not take action on a state parole board's decision to grant Sara Kruzan parole on Friday, allowing the decision to go into effect, the Associated Press reports.

Kruzan, 35, was 16 when she killed George Gilbert Howard, the man she said had sexually abused her and groomed her since age 11 to work as a child prostitute. She was sentenced to life in prison without parole, and her punishment for killing her pimp became a high-profile example used by lawmakers to fight against imprisoning minors for life and soften harsh sentences.

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"It is justice long overdue," Sen. Leland Yee, a San Francisco Democrat who took on Kruzan's case, told the Los Angeles Times.

He called Kruzan's case the "perfect example of adults who failed her, of society failing her. You had a predator who stalked her, raped her, forced her into prostitution, and there was no one around."

Human Rights Watch posted an interview with Kruzan on YouTube in 2009. In the interview, Kruzan recounts her troubled childhood in the care of an abusive mother, and how she eventually ended up at Howard's mercy.

"G.G. was there ... sometimes. And he would talk to me and take me out and give me all of these lavish gifts or do all these things for me," Kruzan says in the video. "And he would tell me 'sex wise, you don't know need to give it up for free.'"

In 2010, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger commuted her sentence to 25-years-to-life with the possibility of parole. At the time, according to the Associated Press, Schwarzenegger wrote:

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"Given Ms. Kruzan's age at the time of the murder, and considering the significant abuse she suffered at his hands, I believe Ms. Kruzan's sentence is excessive it is apparent that Ms. Kruzan suffered significant abuse starting at a vulnerable age."

In September, Brown signed a second bill requiring parole boards to give special consideration to juveniles tried as adults who have served at least 15 years of long sentences, the Associated Press reports. There are more than 1,000 prisoners eligible for parole hearings under that new law, advocates estimate.

Brown's decision on Kruzan's case comes nearly two weeks before the deadline for his action. The parole board was expected to act on the decision on Monday.

Kruzan, who is being held at the Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla, could be released within the next few days.

Her aunt told the Associated Press she wasn't surprised by the governor's action.

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"I just wondered why it took so long," she said.