Sara Kruzan: Woman sentenced to life in prison for killing her trafficker pardoned by Gavin Newsom

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Sara Kruzan shortly after her release from prison in 2014. Ms Kruzan was convicted at age 16 of murdering a man who had been abusing and sex trafficking her. She was pardoned in 2022 by California Governor Gavin Newsom. (screengrab)
Sara Kruzan shortly after her release from prison in 2014. Ms Kruzan was convicted at age 16 of murdering a man who had been abusing and sex trafficking her. She was pardoned in 2022 by California Governor Gavin Newsom. (screengrab)

California Governor Gavin Newsom has pardoned a woman who was convicted of murdering a man who abused her and had been trafficking her to other men to be raped.

Sara Kruzan was only 16 when she managed to obtain a gun and shoot the man abusing her.

She was convicted at her trial in 1995 and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. In 2010, then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger commuted her sentence to 25 years to life. Three years later she was re-sentenced, changing her punishment to 13 years to life.

Ms Kruzan spent 18 years in prison before being released.

Mr Newsom granted the pardon on Friday along with 16 others, according to a press release from his office.

“She has provided evidence that she is living an upright life and has demonstrated her fitness for restoration of civic rights and responsibilities,” the governor's clemency certificate says. “Ms. Kruzan committed a crime that took the life of the victim. Since then, Ms. Kruzan has transformed her life and dedicated herself to community service. This act of clemency for Ms. Kruzan does not minimize or· forgive her conduct or the harm it caused. It does recognize the work she has done since to transform herself."

Ms Kruzan met George Gilbert, the man who trafficked her and who she later killed, when she was 11 years old. Soon after that meeting, Howard began trafficking her to men who raped her.

When she was 16, Ms Kruzan was threatened by her boyfriend's uncle, which involved her in a plot to rob Howard. She went to his motel room to rob him and shot him in the ensuing chaos. She said that she was in fear for her life during the altercation.