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Lawyers For Cyntoia Brown File Appeal To Have Her Life Sentence Overturned

Brown's attorneys believes that the 29-year-old sex trafficking survivor will die  before she is elligible for parole. 

Lawyers for Cyntoia Brown, a sex trafficking victim fighting to have her  life sentence overturned, believe that she is not likely to survive a potentially decades-long wait for her next parole hearing. Brown, now 29, was convicted of murder and sentenced to life at the age of 16.

In a petition filed Monday (Jan. 8), the attorneys argue that the sentence infringes on Brown's constitutional rights, and that she did not have the mental capacity at the time of the crime, to warrant such harsh sentencing.

"This was a seriously mentally impaired girl, subject to the immaturity and impulsiveness of all juveniles but to a much greater degree, who had been abandoned by her parents and whose only refuge was a pimp who sexually and physically abused her," the appeal states, according to The Tennessean.

Brown is currently serving time at the Tennessee Prison for Women. She was tried as an adult for the murder of Johnny Allen, a real estate agent who paid to have sex with the then teenager. Prior to her conviction, Brown was a runaway forced into prostitution. She survived being drugged and repeatedly sexually and physical assaulted by several men, including her boyfriend, who was also her pimp.

In the weeks before her fatal encounter with Allen, Brown had been raped several times. She maintains that she killed Allen in self-defense.

Brown's appeal goes on to cite Miller v. Alabama, a 2012 case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that mandatory life sentences (without the possibility of parole) are unconstitutional for juvenile offenders. The argument was previously shot down because Brown didn't get life without parole.

However, the lawyers also note that Brown suffers from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, and is likely to die before she is eligible for parole. Though Brown was adopted as a toddler, she contracted the disorder -- which can cause brain damage --  because her biological mother drank while she was pregnant.

All of Brown’s previous appeals have been denied. She will be eligible for parole after serving 51 years.

“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 appeal reportedly states.

Brown's story became widely known after it went viral last year, catching the attention of Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, and more who called for her release. Kardashian reportedly even hired a legal team to work on getting her released.

Brown also inspired, Preston Shipp, the former prosecutor who helped keep her behind bars, to quit his job. Shipp, a onetime litigator for the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office, taught a free class at the Tennessee Women’s Prison where he met and befriended Brown. He was surprised to later find out that he had prosecuted her case, and is now an advocate for criminal justice reform.

 

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Connecticut School Employee Resigns After Racist Grocery Store Video Goes Viral

A  Connecticut resident has resigned from her position at the Hamden Public School District after a video posted to Facebook shows her using racial slurs and spitting on two black people while at a local Shop Rite.

According to The New Haven Register, Corinne Terrone who was a clerk in the district's central office, is seen with her two children when the confrontation erupts. Terrone uses the N-Word three times and spits at a black man and black woman. It's unclear how the clash begins.

After Terrone's first use of the slur, the man on video rushes toward Terrone as she attempts to take her phone out and record. “Put your hands on me, come on!” she says. He then slaps the phone out of her hand. That's the only physical encounter between the two caught on video.

The Facebook post, which has received more than 180,000 views, overwhelmingly supported the black man and woman. A spokesman for the school wrote on the district's website that Terrone "has been separated from employment effective immediately.”

“While it appears as though this happened after work hours on Friday evening, the Human Resource Director contacted the employee and arranged an investigatory meeting with her. Shortly after final arrangements were made for the investigatory meeting, the employee rendered her resignation effective immediately.”

Due to the fact that Terrone's children were present during the verbal assault, the district filed a report with DCF services.

Republican State Sen. Len Fasano and state Rep. Joseph Zullo released a joint statement condemning Terrone's language and behavior.

“What we saw in this video is repulsive and deeply offensive and does not represent the people of East Haven or our values. The behavior is shocking and upsetting and has no place anywhere, including in our community,” Fasano and Zullo said in the statement. “We understand Hamden Public Schools has acted quickly to seek this employee’s resignation. East Haven police are also seeking more information and urging any potential victims or witnesses involved to come forward. Hate speech and violence will not be tolerated in our community.”

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Desislava Panteva

Louisiana Accidentally Paid It's Residents Double This Tax Season, To The Tune Of $26 Million

It's tax season and for most Americans the best time of the year to get a few extra coins put back into their pocket. If you're a Louisiana resident, however, you received double that in an unintended flub by the state.

According to reports, 66,000 taxpayers received double their state tax refund, totaling $26 million in overpayment. The state is now reportedly trying to get that money back.

The Division of Administration spokesman Jacques Berry blamed the blunder on a computer system malfunction, which is why so many residents had a healthier state refund.

Nola taxpayers shouldn't get excited just yet. Berry said in most cases the payments were made through the bank accounts direct deposit and can quickly be reversed. If the money isn't there, the bank will reportedly contact the individual about payment.

Berry released a statement admitting to the oversight.

“As the State of Louisiana continues to recoup more than $26 million to duplicate individual income tax refunds that were erroneously issued as the result of a computer error, taxpayers are being urged not to take any action. The vast majority of the duplicated funds are expected to be recovered electronically,” – Jacques Berry, Director of Policy and Communication

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Remains Of 2-Year-Old Noelani Robinson Found In Minnesota Ditch

A nationwide Amber Alert came to a tragic end Friday (March 15) when the body of 2-year-old Noelani Robinson was found wrapped inside of a blanket and placed in a Minnesota ditch. The Southern Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner’s Office deduced little Noelani had been there for some time and died of blunt force trauma.

Authorities aren't sure how the child got into the ditch and if she was killed elsewhere, however, they suspect her father, 34-year-old Dariaz Higgins, who killed her mother, 24-year-old Sierra Robinson on Monday may have placed her there.

According to reports, Robinson became pregnant with Noelani while Higgins was her pimp. The couple stayed together after the child's birth but Robinson later decided to end the relationship and moved to Las Vegas last month leaving Noelani with Higgins

After getting settled, Robinson began trying to see Noelani. On March 9, she reportedly flew back to Milwaukee and stayed with a friend identified as LP. Two days later, Higgins agreed to let Robinson see the child. Higgins picked up Robinson and LP and they reportedly drove around  "talked about old times" and smoked marijuana.

Higgins then drove them to a nearby hotel where he shot Robinson in the chest and LP several times. Robinson died, but LP survived and gave authorities a statement. Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales called Higgins " a stone-cold killer,” with ties "all the way down to Miami, Florida, and Las Vegas, Nevada. Kansas City. He’s been all over the place.”

Higgins confessed to killing Robinson. He's charged with first-degree murder but they're hoping in a forthcoming interview he'll offer details in his daughter's killing.

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