Gov. Gavin Newsom pardons Sara Kruzan, a woman imprisoned for over two decades for killing a man she said sex trafficked her since she was 13

·3-min read
Governor Gavin Newsom speaks at a press conference to unveil the next phase of California's pandemic response in the UPS Healthcare warehouse filled with personal protective equipment in Fontana Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022.
Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at a press conference to unveil the next phase of California's pandemic response in the UPS Healthcare warehouse filled with personal protective equipment in Fontana, Calif. on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022.Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
  • Sara Kruzan served 18 years in prison for killing a man she said sex-trafficked her.

  • Gov. Gavin Newsom just pardoned Kruzan, nearly 30 years later.

  • She said the pardon released "these invisible chains that I didn't realize were still taloned in."

Gov. Gavin Newsom pardoned Sara Kruzan Friday, 27 years after she was convicted for killing the man she said had sex-trafficked her since she was 13 years old.

Tried as an adult when she was 16, Kruzan was sentenced to life in prison without parole for first-degree murder when she was 17 years old. She is one of 16 others that Newsom pardoned Friday and another 129 pardons, 123 commutations, and 35 reprieves he's granted during his tenure, according to a July 1 press release.

"She has provided evidence that she is living an upright life and has demonstrated her fitness for restoration of civic rights and responsibilities," Newsom said in a statement. "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."

Kruzan, who says she was abused as a child, was 11 years old when George Gilbert "G.G." Howard approached her in a red Mustang and offered her ice cream.

She said Howard forced her into child prostitution two years later until she shot him in a Riverside, California motel room in March 1994, according to Reuters.

This undated photo released by the California Department of Corrections shows Sara Kruzan.
Gov. Newsom on Friday, July 1, 2022 pardoned Sara Kruzan, a former inmate who received a life sentence when she was a teenager for killing her former pimp, among nearly three dozens such actions that affected some other elderly and youthful offenders.California Department of Corrections via AP, File

While he was California's governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger commuted her sentence in 2011 to 25 years, but it wasn't until 2013 that she was released from the Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla, California.

Her release followed a recommendation from the California Board of Parole Hearings while Gov. Jerry Brown was in office. But up until Friday, she remained without a pardon.

The pardon does not mean her conviction has been overturned. But for Kruzan, the decision has been significant. Kruzon told The Los Angeles Times that it released "these invisible chains that I didn't realize were still taloned in (me)."

She added that she hopes her story will "have a ripple effect for others who identify with different elements of what I experienced."

Kruzan has a 7-year-old daughter named Summer Reign-Justice who will know of her mother's past, but the pardon could help transform the narrative, Los Angeles Times columnist Anita Chabria wrote in May when Kruzan sought the pardon.

She added that the current criminal-justice system is incapable of understanding "complex and compounded trauma, and it's not just my case, because anyone who has any direct impact with the system has been impacted by trauma," Kruzan told The Los Angeles Times.

Insider was unable to reach Kruzan for comment.

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