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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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Florida Judge Clears Record Of Man Who Overslept And Missed Jury Duty

A Florida judge made headlines last week when he sentenced a man to 10 days in jail for oversleeping and missing jury duty. Now, CNN reports the judge has cleared the young man's record.

Judge John Kastrenakes found 21-year-old Deandre Somerville in contempt of court for not showing up to jury duty during a civil trial. Kastrenakes vacated the contempt of court charge and cleared Somerville's record.

The West Palm Beach resident was originally sentenced to 10 days, 150 hours of community service, a written apology of no less than 100 words and $233 in fines. Judge Kastrenakes' decision prompted swift outrage on social media as Sommerville does not have a criminal record.

The judge reportedly reduced the sentence Friday when Sommerville appeared before the court to read the letter. "Before my hearing, I walked into the courtroom a free man with no criminal record. I left a criminal in handcuffs. This was an immature decision that I made, and I paid the price for my freedom," Somerville said while reading his letter.

On Saturday the Judge said Somerville's letter was 'moving, sincere and heartfelt " and noted that he "has been totally rehabilitated."

Kastrenakes said he ordered probation because he wanted to send a message that jury duty is "is serious business deserving of attention, respect, and adherence to their oaths." However, he said Somerville is "a thoughtful and respectful young man."

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A Texas Man Robbed A Bank The Day Before His Wedding To Pay For The Ring

A Texas man has been charged with aggravated robbery for robbing a bank the day before his wedding to pay for the ring and venue.

According to reports, Heath Edward Bumpus approached a bank teller at Citizens State Bank on Saturday (Oct. 4) and said he had a weapon and demanded money, which he left with.

“He basically stated that he was getting married tomorrow so he didn’t have enough money for a wedding ring that he wanted to buy and he needed to pay for the wedding venue,” Sheriff Woody Wallace said.

After learning of the robbery, Wallace posted Bumpus' photo on Trinity County Sherriff’s Facebook page in hopes the public would assist with his capture. In an ironic turn of events, Bumpus' fiancee saw the photo, called him and convinced him to turn himself into authorities.

“His fiancée, who he was supposed to marry tomorrow, was able to get in touch with him on the phone when she saw our post on Facebook. She knew it was him. She contacted him and asked him if he robbed a bank. She convinced him that she knew it was him. His picture was all on Facebook. He needed to turn himself in,” said Wallace in a video posted to his Facebook page.

Wallace said most of the money was returned, along with the clothes he threw out the window of his car and the gun he hid during the robbery.

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NYPD Arrests 24-Year-Old Suspect In Quadruple Homeless Homicide

There appears to be no rhyme or reason behind the vicious attacks on five of New York City's homeless, which has left not only the community but other New Yorkers shaking their heads in dismay.

According to The New York Times, Rudy Rodriguez Santos was arrested and charged in the quadruple homicide, which took place at about 2 AM Saturday (Oct. 5) in the Chinatown section of the city. Authorities have not released the names of the victims but revealed one of them was an 83-years-old man. The fifth victim has been transported to a nearby hospital.

Advocates for the homeless say there's no way to know exactly how many men and women are living on the street, however, in a 2018 tally the number was 3,588, with 62,000 men and women living in shelters.

Blocks away from the scene, police found 24-year-old Santos holding a bloody metal bar. He was reportedly taken into custody without incident.

“The motive appears to be, right now, just random attacks,” Michael Baldassano, the chief of Manhattan South Detectives said. “No one was targeted by race, age, anything of that nature.”

Santos was captured on surveillance footage approaching the area where one of the attacks took place. Another attack was recorded on a security camera. When approached by investigators, Santos identified himself in the video but didn't confess to the crime. He later asked for an attorney.

Tang Wu, a manager of the Forever Health Pharmacy at 2 East Broadway, caught the attacks on his store's camera and was flabbergasted at the callousness of it all.

“They have nowhere to live and you beat them to death,” Wu said. “How terrible.”

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