Cyntoia Brown, the woman who was backed by several celebrities after a filmmaker made a documentary about her controversial case, is challenging her life sentence in prison
Brown, 29, was a 16-year-old victim of sex trafficking in Tennessee in 2004 when she fatally shot Johnny Mitchell Allen, a 43-year-old real estate agent who had solicited her for sex, according to court documents and multiple local reports.
She has now filed an appeal in federal court challenging her sentence, according to The Tennessean.
Brown’s lawyers are asking the Sixth Court of Appeals to look at her case again and to consider whether she was innocent as she lacked the sufficient mental capacity for a murder conviction at the time, according to the outlet.
She is currently serving her life sentence at the Tennessee Prison for Women.
Celebrities like Kim Kardashian West and Rihanna called for her release after her case went viral. Kardashian West also offered her legal team’s assistance. Brown becomes eligible for parole soon after she turns 69.
In 2011, Brown was the subject of a PBS documentary called Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story. The film was produced by Daniel H. Birman, who documented Brown’s case from the week of her arrest until her conviction almost six years later.
Then six years after the film released, a post about the case went viral gaining the attention of the public and celebrities.
“Imagine at the age of 16 being sex-trafficked by a pimp named ‘cut-throat.’ After days of being repeatedly drugged and raped by different men, you were purchased by a 43-year-old child predator who took you to his home to use you for sex. You end up finding enough courage to fight back and shoot and kill him,” the viral tweet about her read.
Rapper T.I. and actress Cara Delivigne have also used their platforms to shine new light on the case, and are calling on lawmakers to intervene. Kardashian West vowed in a social media post that she would have her attorneys look into Brown’s conviction to see if anything can be done to help her.
The movement has inspired the hashtag #FreeCyntoiaBrown on Twitter.