Cyntoia Brown, the woman who was jailed for 50 years as a 16-year-old for fatally shooting a man she’d been sexually trafficked to, apologized to her victim’s family on Tuesday as she spoke out about her early release from prison.
Brown, now 31, was just 16 when she was sentenced to 51 years in prison for fatally shooting Johnny Allen.
He had paid $150 to have sex with her and Cyntoia claims she shot him in self-defense when he reached for his own gun.
She had spent her teenage years being raped on multiple occasions by several men and sexually trafficked by a pimp called ‘Kut Throat’. Her story attracted the attention of celebrities including Kim Kardashian West and in August, she was granted clemency by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam. She was released having served 15 years in prison.
Now, she has released a book about her life.
On Tuesday morning, she appeared on Today to promote it and she offered an apology to Allen’s family who said they were dismayed by her release. They maintain that she was trying to rob him.
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Cyntoia Brown on Today on Tuesday (left). Brown shot Johnny Allen who had paid $150 to have sex with her in 2004
Brown had met Allen in a parking lot. He offered to buy her snacks and then said he’d pay her $150 to have sex with her.
She agreed to it and they went to his home where she shot him in the back of the head.
She then fled with his wallet and two of his guns and was later arrested.
‘I would let them know that number one the way they feel is completely understandable.
‘I don’t think that we can tell someone how to feel when they’ve been through something like that and I completely understand.
‘They’ve lost a loved one. I took that person from them. I would tell them that I apologize, if they would ever want an opportunity to speak with me – I’d be more than happy to. I would (talk to them),’ she said
Brown also said that writing the book in prison – which she said was not ‘not conducive to rehabilitation’ as a place – helped her;.
Brown is shown in a photograph taken during her trial when she was 16 years old. This image, with her hair styled in pigtails, went viral in 2017
‘Everything that’s happened over the course of 15 years, I’d come to a point where I’d healed from this, understood things differently, then when I put it on paper it had to take me back to those moments and I was like, “wow i really didn’t know I was still dealing with this.”‘
Brown had been sexually trafficked and repeatedly raped by the time she was jailed at 16. She is pictured in her mugshot
She said that it was only ‘by grace of God’ that she was still alive, having undergone multiple attacks, both sexual and physical in nature, before she was even imprisoned.
‘I’m here by the grace of God. Because looking back over everything that I came through, I shouldn’t be here right now. I shouldn’t even be alive, you know,’ she said.
She added that had she not been jailed, she likely would not have lived.
‘It took years for me to develop a relationship with Jesus. When I started that process I started to realize, God doesn’t work on my time.
‘He saved my life by putting me where I am, he’s given me a testimony that can help other girls avoid being where I am.
It can help free other people ‘ she said.
In an earlier interview with NBC Nightly News on Monday, she told Lester Holt that she feared that the intense media attention and celebrity interest in her case would harm her chances at clemency.
Brown discussing her new memoir on Today on Tuesday morning. She was released from prison in August
Brown said she feared her case would be harmed by the attention it got from celebrities like Kim Kardashian West
‘I was so nervous and the I was like, I don’t want the governor to think I’ve done this to like try to kind of like push his hand.
‘Like that could backfire. That could look very bad.’
‘We had actually heard back from the governor’s counsel that the whole Kim Kardashian thing was not helping. So I was kind of fearful,’ she said.
Prosecutors argued that Brown-Long was not defending herself, but was attempting to rob Allen. She was tried as an adult, convicted of first-degree murder, which would have kept her in prison for life. She would be 69-years-old by the time she would be eligible for parole.
Brown is now married. She and her husband tied the knot when she was still in custody in January.
Her book, Free Cyntoia, is out now.
It offers ‘graphic’ descriptions of her life before she was put in prison and her campaign to be released.
Brown’s book, Free Cyntoia, is out now. She was released from prison in August