NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A woman who fatally shot a man who had picked her up for sex when she was 16 was unconstitutionally sentenced to life in prison, her lawyers say.
Cyntoia Brown, now 29, has been at the Tennessee Prison for Women since 2004, when she was convicted of killing 43-year-old Nashville real estate agent Johnny Allen.
The Tennessean reports that Brown's advocates say she was a sex trafficking victim fearing for her life and wronged by the legal system. Prosecutors say Brown killed the man to rob him.
Brown's lawyers filed a federal appeal, after celebrities including Rihanna and Kim Kardashian West called for her release. Brown won't be eligible for parole until her late 60s, and her lawyers argue she may not live that long.
"The half-century wait before Cyntoia Brown has a meaningful opportunity to demonstrate her 'maturity and rehabilitation' is insufficient to satisfy the minimum constitutional requirement mandated by the Supreme Court," the appeals said.
Monday's appeal cites a 2012 Supreme Court ruling against life sentences for juveniles and asserts Brown's innocence, saying she lacked the mental capacity at the time to commit murder. Brown's previous appeals have been denied.