Newsom Pardons Sex Trafficker Killer

California Governor Gavin Newsom has officially pardoned Sara Kruzan after nearly 20 years of imprisonment for killing the man who had sexually trafficked her when she was a teenager.

Kruzan, who was given a life sentence without the possibility of release 27 years ago, was among 17 other inmates who received clemency from Newsom on July 1.

“Ms. Kruzan has submitted to this office a formal application for executive clemency in the form of a gubernatorial pardon. She has provided evidence that she is living an upright life and has demonstrated her fitness for restoration of civic rights and responsibilities,” read part of Newsom’s pardon.

In September 1995, the then 16-year-old Kruzan was found guilty of killing her abuser George Gilbert Howard after he attempted to sexually assault her. 

According to a Los Angeles Times feature, Kruzan met Howard when she was only 11 years, and later forced her to have sex with other men and trafficked her. Years later, Kruzan agreed to rob Howard at a motel after being threatened by her boyfriend’s uncle; however, she ultimately shot and murdered him out of fear for her life.

Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger previously commuted Kruzan’s sentence to 25 years in 2011 and was released from jail in 2013 at the age of 35 after a Riverside judge reduced her sentence even further.

A press release from Newsom’s office explained that although the pardon does not erase Kruzan’s conviction, it will still work to remove “Counterproductive barriers to employment and public service.”

The pardon went on to express that Kruzan has “Transformed her life and dedicated herself to community service.”

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