Will Cyntoia Brown Go Free? Teen Given Life Sentence After Killing Could Be Illegal

The life sentence Cyntoia Brown is serving behind bars has created a firestorm of support on social media from celebrities and activists.

But even without their help, Brown still has a chance of going free because of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that says the sentence might be out of compliance with the ruling. 

Brown was arrested in 2004 for killing Johnny Allen, 43, after he'd picked her up and took her back to his home for sex. She later shot him and stole two of Allen's guns and his wallet. 

She was sentenced in 2006 to life in prison without much of her tragic backstory being told. She'd been forced into prostitution by her pimp-boyfriend, "Cut-throat," and was beaten, raped and choked on a regular basis. She also has a neurodevelopmental disorder, which is characterized by a "severe mental disease and defect" and has lowered her IQ, which was never told to jurors. A documentary was later produced which showed details of her story and sentencing. 

READ MORE: Cyntoia Brown Wasn't A Victim, Stole Money After Killing Johnny Allen: Prosecutors

Under Tennessee law, Brown's case would be re-examined after she serves 51 years in prison—in other words, she wouldn't even be considered for parole until she's in her late 60s. But a recent Supreme Court decision could change that. 

The decision banned mandatory life-without-parole sentences for offenders under the age of 18 across the nation. But Brown didn't qualify because she does have a chance at parole—when she's 69 years old, which many say could be a violation of the ruling.

Tennessee's laws have gotten in the way and made this issue more confusing because the state only leaves judges and juries two choices—life in prison or life with the possibility of parole after serving 51 years, according to the Associated Press

Advocates have argued that both are leaving children behind bars without any chance of getting out. The court's decision would affect the 13 juvenile offenders who were sentenced to life without the chance of parole—but for now, it does not affect the roughly 100 others still behind bars for the 51-year minimum, which includes Brown, the AP reported. 

Supporters have argued the state's law is cruel and might be unconstitutional, even though the Supreme Court has yet to rule on it. 

"I am not aware of any other state in the country that has those two options and only those two options," Marsha Levick, a spokeswoman with the Juvenile Law Center, told AP. "The 51-to-life is the most extreme so-called alternative to the law that I've heard."

After the documentary was released showing the story of Brown's life and sentencing, lawmakers examined changing the state's laws on juvenile sentencing but nothing has yet been done. 

READ MORE: Who is Cyntoia Brown? 'Sex Trafficking Victim' Gets Support From Celebs on Instagram

Brown's story ignited on social media Tuesday after singer Rihanna posted about the case on Instagram, saying Brown had been repeatedly "drugged and raped by different men" who purchased her. 

"Something is horribly wrong when the system enables these rapists and the victim is thrown away for life," Rihanna wrote.

Kim Kardashian and others also posted about the case, the reality star even offering her attorney's assistance in the case. 

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