Cyntoia Brown, the woman who was convicted of killing her alleged sex trafficker and sentenced to life in prison, is now free.
Brown was granted clemency in January by then-Gov. Bill Haslam and officially released early Wednesday morning, according to a press release sent at 3:30 a.m. local time.
“Early this morning offender Cyntoia Denise Brown was released from the Tennessee Prison for Women,” the Nashville District Attorney’s Office said in a statement. “Per the commutation, Brown has now been released to parole supervision.”
Brown was sentenced to life in prison for the 2004 killing of Johnny Allen, a 43-year-old real estate broker she claims solicited her for sex. She was only 14 years old at the time of the murder.
She served 15 years in prison for the crime.
“The lord has held my hand this whole time and I would never have made it without him,” Brown wrote in a letter read at a press conference following the announcement of clemency, adding that she is “committed to living the rest of my life helping others.”
Brown was allegedly forced into sex with other men by 24-year-old Garion “Cut Throat” McGlothen and had experienced physical and sexual abuse, according to an amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by her attorneys in 2015. McGlothen died in 2005, before Brown was sentenced.
The then-16-year-old was convicted of first-degree murder in 2006 and given a mandatory life sentence with the possibility of parole starting in 2057.
Her case gained attention in 2017 thanks to social media posts by celebrities, including Kim Kardashian and Rihanna, calling for her release.
She was also the subject of a 2011 documentary called “Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story.” She also spent time in prison writing a book, called “Free Cyntoia,” which will be published by Atria Books on Oct. 15.
Despite her release, she will be subject to compliance with an approved release plan, must maintain employment or educational enrollment, participate in counseling sessions and maintain “a regular commitment” to community service, the district attorney said.