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Court Rules Cyntoia Brown Must Spend 51 Years In Prison To Be Eligible For Parole

The Tennesee Supreme Court made a unanimous decision in Brown's fight for freedom. 

Cyntoia Brown must spend at least five decades in prison before she will be eligible for parole, a Tennessee Supreme Court Supreme Court ruled Thursday (Dec. 6). Brown, 30, has been behind bars for more than a decade for the 2004 murder of real-estate agent Johnny Allen.

Lawyers for Brown say that her life sentence amounts to cruel and unusual punishment because she was a minor at the time of her arrest, despite being tried as an adult. Brown’s petition for post-conviction relief argues that her mandatory minimum sentence is unconstitutional, citing the Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling in Miller v. Alabama.

In an eight page decision, the state Supreme Court of judges unanimously concluded that a "defendant so convicted and sentenced to life in prison under Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-13-202(c)(3)" on or after July 1, 1995, must serve “at least 51 years of imprisonment” prior to parole eligibility.

“The District Court denied relief, reasoning that Miller prohibits a mandatory sentence of life without the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders, and Ms. Brown received a life sentence, not a sentence of life without the possibility of parole,” the decision reads.

The state’s Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals heard Brown’s legal argument over the summer but turned the decision over to the higher court.

Brown was convicted in 2006 of first-degree murder, felony murder and aggravated robbery. Prosecutors claimed that the then 16-year-old Brown shot and killed Allen, who drove her back to his home and paid her for sex, during a murder robbery. Brown maintains that she shot Allen in self-defense. The trial court merged Brown's convictions, handing down  a mandatory life sentence.

A survivor of child sex-trafficking, rape, and physical and mental abuse, Brown became widely known after the 2011 documentary, Me Facing Life: The Cyntoia Brown Story. The Memphis native is currently serving time at the Tennessee Prison for Women.

READ MORE: Cyntoia Brown's Life Sentence Sparks Outrage Over America's Justice System

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The Viral Covington Catholic High School Teen Is Suing The Washington Post

Nicholas Sandmann, the 16-year-old Kentucky teen who went viral after footage showed him wearing a MAGA hat starring at a Native American man, has launched a lawsuit against The Washington Post to the tune of $250 million.

According to reports, Sandmann's lawyers filed a complaint Tuesday (Feb. 19) and argued the newspaper neglected to add context to the video, which resulted in damage to the teen's reputation, as well as him allegedly being bullied and harassed.

"[The Post] intended to harm Nicholas because he was a white, Catholic boy wearing a MAGA hat, and consciously ignored the threats of harm that it knew would inevitably ensue, in favor of its political agenda," the complaint outlines.

Nicholas and veteran Nathan Phillips crossed paths in January at the March For Life protest in Washington, D. C. While at the Lincoln Memorial, Philips was singing and playing a drum after the Indigenous Peoples March. Scenes from the video show teens in the background making tomahawk chopping gestures with their hands as Philips moves through the crowd, as Nicholas is seen smiling directly in his face.

Longer videos, however, provide more background. Black Hebrew Israelites were shouting and a confrontation ensued between Native Americans and tourists. BuzzFeed News spoke with Hunter Hooligan another attendee of the Indigenous People's March and described Nicholas' behavior as "mob mentality."

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bsy9_7WFDQO/?utm_source=ig_embed

"What made me feel scared was the mob mentality of the situation," Hooligan said. "That type of tactic of instilling fear and intimidation and overpowering and outnumbering has been a consistent weapon of white supremacy against indigenous people."

The lawsuit claims Nicholas was singled out by the paper's coverage of the incident and was motivated by their own political agenda.

"The Post must be dealt with the same way every bully is dealt with, and that is hold the bully fully accountable for its wrongdoing in a manner which effectively deters the bully from again bullying other children."

Speaking to Buzzfeed News, The Post is planning to "mount a vigorous defense."

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Stockton Launches Basic Income Program Gifting Residents With $500 A Month

Stockton, California has launched its basic income plan gifting dozens of residents with $500 a month, the Huffington Post reports.

Last year, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs responded to criticism over the program which was designed to help close the poverty gap as residents struggle to stay afloat amid California's skyrocketing rent prices and increase in homelessness.

The basic income plan -- the first of its kind to be launched by a U.S. city -- was announced by Tubbs and the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) in 2017. Under the program, 130 residents will receive a monthly stipend via prepaid debit cards for the next 18 months.

Exciting! Congrats to the team, the city, and to the recipients. We’ve learned so much getting to this point and I am looking forward to learning more. Stockton lead the way @stocktondemo #ReinventStockton https://t.co/j2OPkA4zG8

— Michael Tubbs (@MichaelDTubbs) February 15, 2019

Stockton's median household income is just under $50,000 a year. Residents are chosen through an “algorithm” to make sure that the selection is representative of the community’s diversity.

The money is funded by a grant from the Economic Security Project, in addition to other funds raised, Tubbs said.

“There’s no restriction on how people can use the money,” he pointed out. “If people use it for drugs and alcohol that’s there prerogative. [But] if I didn’t believe in the capacity of the folks who elected me to make good decisions, I probably shouldn’t be mayor.”

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Boyfriend Suspected Of Killing Girlfriend And Her Son Jumps In Front Of Train

An ex-con who's suspected of brutally beating his girlfriend and her son to death committed suicide by jumping in front of Metro-North train six hours after the murders.

According to The New York Daily News, Hector Cruz, 51, is believed to have stabbed and used a workout weight to bludgeon Marisol Ortiz, 51 and her 14-year-old son Alanche del Orbe in their Bronx apartment.

Ortiz's 21-year-old daughter, Chantal del Orbe, found the bodies after returning home from a friend's house. Before bursting into tears, Chantal hung a birthday banner over a makeshift memorial created for her brother who was killed a day before his 15th birthday.

“He was sweet all the time,” she said of her brother. “It was all love in that house.”

Grieving friends, family and those in the neighborhood say they have no doubt Cruz is the killer. “Go in peace my aunt with my nephew. Wow, I feel so powerless why do things like this have to happen. My God. Mourning. What a great loss," Emiluz Ortiz wrote on Facebook.

Cruz was released from prison in 2016 after serving seven years for first-degree assault, and while speaking with the Daily News Chantal said Cruz showcased signs of possessiveness.

“He was a bit jealous. He was strange. He would look through (Ortiz’s) phone but he was never aggressive. He always said he wanted the family united,” she said. “He never really convinced me. Days before he was acting strange.”

The crime was so severe, Ortiz’s cousin Haydee Leonardo said it's affected the funeral.

“They’re going to cremate the bodies because they were told that their faces were so brutally beaten, you can’t see who they were. You can’t see their faces,” he said.

Cruz was reportedly killed by a northbound Metro-North train at the Hartsdale station Sunday morning (Feb. 17) at 9:45 AM.

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