Cyntoia Brown To Be Released From Prison
Cyntoia Brown, a woman serving a life sentence for killing a man when she was a 16-year-old prostitute, smiles at family members during her clemency hearing Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Lacy Atkins /The Tennessean via AP

Cyntoia Brown Will Be A Free Woman Next Week

Cyntoia Brown, who served 15 years of a life sentence, will be released from prison.

After serving 15 years behind bars for killing her rapist, Cyntoia Brown will walk out of a Tennessee women's prison next week a free woman.

When Brown was 16 years old, she began dating this 24-year-old man known as "Kut Throat" who she said forced her to become a sex worker and also physically and sexually abused her. One August day, he sent her to 43-year-old Johnny Allen. Allen reportedly picked her up from a local Sonic fast-food restaurant, bought her food and took her back to his house.

Brown said Allen tried to intimidate her by showing her the guns he owns and bragging about his military experience. Brown never denied pulling the trigger and shooting Allen in the head as he laid in the bed.

At 16, Brown was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison only being eligible for parole after serving 51 years. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme court ruled juveniles given a life sentence without the possibility of parole was unconstitutional. This didn't apply to Tennessee because parole was a possibility only after serving half-century.  Juvenile justice reformers called the ruling "a virtual life sentence."

In 2011, filmmaker Dan Birman released a documentary on Brown that was widely received and caught the attention of successful Nashville attorney Charles Bone who took on her case pro bono.  Bone was just one of many who began to advocate for Brown, and with the help of social media and celebrities, her case quickly exploded and got the attention of the masses.

In January, Bone went to visit her to deliver the news she would be getting out in August. He asked if she was upset that it would take six more months, but Brown was too elated.

"She said, 'Are you crazy? I was supposed to get out when I was 67 years old.' "

From the Web

More on Vibe

Gerardo Mora/Getty Images

Tashonna Ward: 25-Year-Old Woman Dies After Waiting Hours In ER

The family of the 25-year-old Wisconsin woman are seeking answers following her tragic death earlier in the month. Tashonna Ward, a daycare worker whose newborn daughter died last year, passed away after waiting nearly three hours in the emergency room at Wisconsin's Froedtert Hospital where she sought treatment for chest pains and shortness of breath.

Ward checked into the ER at 4:58 p.m on Jan. 2, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. During the wait, hospital staff checked Ward’s heartbeat and she underwent an x-ray, the latter of which showed that she had an enlarged heart.

She was sent back to the waiting room.

"I been here since 4:30 something for shortness of breath, and chest pains for them to just say it’s a two to SIX hour wait to see a [doctor]. Like that is really f***ing ridiculous,” Ward reportedly wrote on Facebook according to NBC News.

Ward left Froedtert to go to another hospital at around 7:30 p.m., but never made it. She collapsed soon after and was rushed back to Froedtert where she was pronounced dead.

“How can you triage someone with shortness of breath and chest pain, and stick them in the lobby?" Ward’s cousin, Andrea Ward, said according to the Journal Sentinel. Andrea launched a Go Fund Me  account to raise funds for her cousin’s funeral.

A rep for Froedtert expressed condolences over Ward's death . “The family is in our thoughts and has our deepest sympathy,” a rep for the hospital said in a statement. “We cannot comment further at this time.”

Ward had previously been told that she developed an enlarged heart during her pregnancy. Her baby died last March after the baby’s umbilical chord wrapped around the its neck.

Although heart disease is the leading cause of death among men women in the U.S., the risks are even higher for black women. According to 2017 statistics, nearly half of black women over the age of 20 battle some type of heart disease.

Black women are also at higher risk of dying from pregnancy complications. While there are several variables at play (like a lack of access to proper health care), the larger issue is that black women are often “undervalued,” noted Dr. Ana Langer, director of the Women and Health Initiative at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in an interview with the American Heart Association.

“[Black women] are not monitored as carefully as white women are,” said Langer. “When they do present with symptoms, they are often dismissed.”

Ward’s family are reportedly scheduled to meet with the hospital next week. The hospital has received numerous online complaints over the years, many of which involve billing issues but also treatment and long wait periods.

A Yelp review  posted last year warned patients not to believe the 23-minute wait time touted at the hospital. The woman and her ailing child left the hospital after waiting for six hours “without being evaluated other than a [five-minute] ‘triage.’”

Continue Reading
Stewart F. House/Getty Images

Atatiana Jefferson’s Mother Dies In House Where Daughter Was Killed

Yolanda Carr, the mother of Atatiana Jefferson, died in the same house where a Texas cop killed her daughter. A family lawyer announced Carr’s passing on Thursday (Jan. 9).

“We just learned Yolanda Carr, the mother of #AtatianaJefferson, passed away in her home early Thursday morning,” attorney S. Lee Merritt tweeted adding that Jefferson, 28, was killed by a Fort Worth officer “while serving as the caregiver for Ms. Carr who had recently taken ill.”

The family has been left “devastated” by the loss. Further details surrounding Carr's death were unavailable at press time.

“This is why we call police brutality genocide,” Merritt tweeted. “It is akin to a public lynching. It impacts the entire community. It is domestic terrorism under the color of state authority.”

Yolanda’s family is devastated. This is why we call police brutality genocide. It is akin to a public lynching. It impacts the entire community. It is domestic terrorism under the color of state authority. https://t.co/KyRtR7aG6X

— S. Lee Merritt, Esq. (@MeritLaw) January 10, 2020

Jefferson, who would've celebrated her 29th birthday this past Thanksgiving, was killed last October by Ft. Worth Sheriff's deputy Aaron Dean. Dean shot Jefferson through the window of her home while she was playing video games with her nephew. Police were responding to a neighbor’s call about a door being open at the location when Dean opened fire on Jefferson. Dean resigned from the department after the fatal shooting. He has since been charged with murder.

A month after Jefferson was killed, her father Marquise Jefferson died of a heart attack, which his spokesperson said was a result of the death of his only child. “I can only sum it up as a broken heart,” said Bruce Carter. “He had to go through so much just to get through the services as a father, and continually doing good to make sure that who he was in their relationship was something he could honor.”

Carr, who was hospitalized after Jefferson was killed, responded to Dean's murder charge in an emotional video recorded from her hospital bed. “We’re going to miss her this Christmas, but I’m so glad that they finally indicted that man on murder because he murdered my baby in my home,” Carr said. “She wasn’t doing anything wrong. My thought was 'Thank you Jesus,' even though I know we have a long way to go at least we got the charge on him.”

 

Watch Carr's full message below.

The mother of #AtatianaJefferson has died in her home. This is her let public statement from her hospital bed after learning of Aaron Dean’s indictment on the charge of murder. pic.twitter.com/UQg00Te48v

— S. Lee Merritt, Esq. (@MeritLaw) January 9, 2020

Continue Reading
Pool

Harvey Weinstein Charged With Four Counts Of Sexual Assault In Los Angeles

Hollywood filmmaker Harvey Weinstein was indicted Monday (Jan. 6) for raping one woman and sexually assaulting another in Los Angeles. This indictment came the same day that his sex assault trial commenced in New York City, reports the Los Angeles Times. 

TMZ also reported that Weinstein was charged with one felony count each of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force, and sexual battery by restraint.

Weinstein faces five felony charges in New York, based on claims by two women, one of whom remains anonymous. However, six women with sexual encounters with Weinstein will testify, according to the New York Times. Jury selection in the case is scheduled to begin Tuesday. One of those witnesses in the case is expected to be The Sopranos actor Annabella Sciorra, who alleges Weinstein raped her inside her Manhattan apartment in 1993, according to the New York Times.

Weinstein has pleaded not guilty and his defense team is expected to try and undermine the women's testimony. His attorneys have also long denied that any non-consensual sex happened.

The former film producer became tied to the MeToo movement after the New York Times and The New Yorker published reports detailing the stories women who said he had sexually assaulted or harassed them. More than 80 women all have since come forward, although many of their allegations fall outside the statute of limitations.

If convicted of all charges, Weinstein faces up to 28 years in state prison.

Continue Reading

Top Stories