Cyntoia Brown’s case back in the spotlight after Rihanna, Kim Kardashian West speak out

Wendy Tucker rubs Cyntoia Brown’s back during closing arguments in her trial in Nashville, Tenn. Brown received a life sentence for the murder of Johnny Mitchell Allen, Aug. 25, 2006.

When Cyntoia Brown was 16, she shot and killed a man who had allegedly hired her for sex. She was tried as an adult, convicted of first-degree murder and given a mandatory life sentence with the possibility of parole only after 51 years.

Now, her case is back in the spotlight thanks to social media posts by celebrities calling for her release. Advocates say they are hoping the renewed attention helps them argue that Brown should be eligible for parole sooner.

“We have been very, very surprised. The entire team, as well as Cyntoia, obviously had no idea that this was going to happen or why it happened, and she is very appreciative of the support from everyone,” Charles Bone, Brown’s attorney, told ABC News. “It is about her, but it’s also about the issues, and I think that’s what she feels strongly about. The issues of sex trafficking and sex slavery and juvenile justice all need a lot of attention throughout the world but especially here in Tennessee.”

Cyntoia Brown was convicted of first-degree murder in 2006, when she was 16.

Brown was convicted of first-degree murder in 2006 after she shot and killed Johnny Michael Allen, a 43-year-old man who had allegedly hired her for sex. She was forced into sex with other men by 24-year-old Garion “Cut Throat” McGlothen and had experienced physical and sexual abuse, according to an amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by her attorneys in 2015. McGlothen died in 2005.

Brown has already spent more than a decade behind bars, but Bone said the renewed attention comes as he is preparing to argue her case before the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in early 2018.

“The court will be asked by our team to consider the constitutionality of the 51-year sentence for a child,” Bone said. “That’s been the issue we have felt for all these years needs to be considered by the courts. We haven’t been successful yet, but we are hopeful the 6th Circuit will consider our appeal on a favorable basis.”

Marsha Levick, the deputy director and chief counsel of the nonprofit Juvenile Law Center, said Brown is far from the only juvenile offender to have received a harsh sentence.

“My hope for cases like Cyntoia’s is to just literally try to change the paradigm,” Levick told ABC News. “When someone is a child, when someone has had the experiences Cyntoia had, our system needs to be able to reflect that and to recognize that. Otherwise, I think we lose our sense of humanity.”

In this Dec. 18, 2015 photo, inmate Cyntoia Brown of the Tennessee Prison for Women delivers a commencement address before receiving her associate degree from Lipscomb University.

Brown was diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder in 2012, according to her attorney. At the time she shot Allen, “her exposure to alcohol poisoning in utero left her with a damaged brain which caused her to experience the world through the mind of a 10-year-old child,” according to the habeas corpus petition. She had also been abandoned and later kidnapped by her biological mother, suffered physical and sexual abuse and was forced “into a life of prostitution,” the writ of habeas corpus states. In 2009, the Supreme Court of Tennessee upheld her conviction.

But two U.S. Supreme Court decisions in 2010 and 2012 have changed how juveniles can be sentenced. In 2010, the court prohibited sentencing juveniles to life without the possibility of parole for non-homicide offenses. In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that 8th amendment prohibits sentencing juvenile offenders to life in prison without the possibility of parole for any offense.

Those two decisions are among the reasons Bone believes Brown’s case should be reconsidered.

But Jeff Burks, who prosecuted Brown, told FOX17 in Nashville last week that he disagrees.

“There has been a group of people who have wanted to make Ms. Brown a victim and a celebrity since this happened,” Burks wrote to Fox 17 News. “She was not ‘trafficked’ nor was she a ‘sex slave.’ It’s not fair to the victim and his family that the other side of this case is so seldom heard.”

Burks did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

Although she has been incarcerated since her arrest in August 2004, her case first received widespread attention after the release of a 2010 documentary, “Me Facing Life: The Cyntoia Brown Story.” Bone said he began representing her pro-bono the same year after seeing the documentary.

Her story is now back in the spotlight after singer Rihanna posted about Brown’s case on Instagram earlier this week and other celebrities followed suit, including Kim Kardashian West, rapper TI and basketball player LeBron James.

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Woman killed after giving money to panhandler in Baltimore was engineer who had been out dancing with husband

bal-woman-fatally-stabbed-in-baltimore-after-rolling-down-window-to-give-money-to-panhandler-20181204Jacquelyn Smith, 54, of Aberdeen was fatally stabbed early Saturday in Baltimore after she rolled down a car window to give money to a panhandler, her husband said.

 

Keith and Jacquelyn Smith danced Friday night at the American Legion on Madison Street in Baltimore, where they had brought his daughter Shavon to celebrate her 28th birthday.

Hours later, about 12:30 a.m., the 52-year-old Harford County man found himself calling 911 and rushing Jacquelyn, 54, to the emergency room. She had been stabbed by a man through their rolled-down car window after giving money to a woman panhandling in the rain in East Baltimore, he said.

Jacquelyn Smith, an electrical engineer at Aberdeen Proving Ground, had her necklace and pocketbook snatched by the woman and the man, who approached under the guise of thanking her for giving the woman money, her husband said. She died two hours after they arrived at Johns Hopkins Hospital, he said.

The pair ran away, but the woman paused long enough to say something, Keith Smith said.

“This girl actually said, ‘God bless you’ ” after the man stabbed Jacquelyn, he said.

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Mayor Catherine Pugh told members of the City Council at a working lunch Monday that she had spoken with Keith Smith. The council paused to acknowledge Jacquelyn Smith, among others who have died, in a moment of silence during its Monday meeting.

“You’ve got people who’ve got warm hearts who want to roll down their windows and give to people,” the mayor said. “This incident that occurred this past weekend is unconscionable.”

As Baltimore Police cadets canvassed the Johnston Square neighborhood Monday afternoon near the site of the stabbing — East Chase and Valley streets — interim police Commissioner Gary Tuggle called the killing “a heinous murder.”

Detectives do not yet have any leads on the pair’s identities, he said.

“They’re using this ruse as panhandlers to get the attention of their would-be victims,” Tuggle said. “We also want to caution the public about engaging with panhandlers and recognizing that not all of them have honest intent. Not all of them have real need.”

Keith Smith said the woman appeared to be holding a baby and had a cardboard sign that said “Please Help me feed my Baby.” Although he was reluctant to open the window late at night, he said, his wife held money out from the front passenger seat because she “felt moved to give her some money.”

Smith, who is from Baltimore and whose daughter lives on Valley Street, now wants to get a law passed in his wife’s memory banning panhandling.

The Baltimore City Code already prohibits soliciting money “from any operator or occupant of a motor vehicle that is in traffic on a public street, whether in exchange for cleaning the vehicle’s windows or otherwise.”

“Something needs to be done, because now you don’t know whether or not you’re going to give and this person’s going to take your life or they’re going to say thank you,” Smith said Monday. “There are some desperate people. They don’t need help; they’re trying to hurt you.”

Councilman Robert Stokes, who represents the district where the incident occurred, said the stabbing would deter people from aiding people seeking help — but he acknowledged that keeping people from panhandling would be difficult.

“It’s going to be hard now for people to roll their windows down,” Stokes said. “A lot of people are not going to give.”

Asked what a new police commissioner might be able to do to stop similar violence in the future, Stokes said he wasn’t sure because of the limits placed on police by the federal consent decree.

“How do you move people from off the corners? Maybe the ACLU will come in … so we’ve got to be careful how we do that,” Stokes said. “I think the consent decree has made it very hard. I guess some of the officers feel like they’ve got to be careful how they engage people because they don’t want no lawsuits. They don’t want to get terminated.”

But Stokes said he wasn’t making a direct link between Smith’s stabbing and the consent decree, calling the crime an “isolated incident.”

Kevin Lindamood, president and CEO of Health Care for the Homeless, said he was horrified to hear of the killing and concerned it could further stigmatize homelessness.

“Obviously this is a horrible incident and a crime,” Lindamood said. “As with any crime, we shouldn’t attribute the actions of an individual to an entire group of people. We don’t say that someone from a bank embezzling money means that all bankers are crooked.”

Services planned for Jacquelyn Smith, woman killed in Baltimore after giving money to panhandler »

“The broader realities of homelessness and the conditions that lead people to beg publicly are also tragedies, and I think we have to be very mindful not to lump everybody into a single category,” he added. “Out of a tragedy like this I would encourage us all to redouble our work towards social justice.”

Bishop Roger Tatuem and his wife, Pastor Miriam Tatuem, of the Churchville congregation Helping Hands Ministries, said Jacquelyn and Keith Smith had been members of their church for about four years, and they taught weekly Christian education classes for new members.

They struggled to believe the news that Jacquelyn Smith had been killed.

“She was a very strong lady, very strong personality,” Miriam Tatuem said of the Providence, R.I., native. “If she believed in something, she believed in it — she was one of those kind of people who was ride-or-die.”

Miriam Tatuem said Jacquelyn Smith also volunteered on the church’s hospitality committee, where she would help serve church functions, including lunches after funeral services.

She recalled a time Smith helped Tatuem’s son and daughter-in-law prepare for a housewarming party. When they were running behind, Smith jumped into the kitchen and began helping her daughter-in-law with last-minute needs.

“She was always a good helper. Whatever her little hands found to do, she would do it,” Miriam Tateum said. “She was a very giving person.”

Roger Tatuem said Smith helped him edit his forthcoming book. She gave him feedback throughout the summer to help him strengthen “The Sound of Trouble,” he said.

“She really got me motivated to get on and finish it,” he said.

Tandra Ridgley, an Aberdeen resident and fellow Helping Hands congregant, also knew the Smiths from church. Ridgley described Jacquelyn Smith as faithful and generous, and she recalled the Smiths taking friends out on a large boat they owned.

“I’m just really sorry to see this because she didn’t deserve that,” Ridgley said. “The church — we’re just really heartbroken about it.”

Ridgely said, above all, she’ll remember Jacquelyn Smith’s kindness.

“She was genuinely a sweet lady, she really was, and very encouraging,” she continued. “When my mother passed, she would always tell me, ‘Hang in there.’ ”

Keith Smith scrolled through photos of him and his wife on his phone Monday afternoon — at the dance Friday night, after voting in the recent election, smiling in the Inner Harbor. The couple had celebrated their fourth anniversary in July.

On the night of her death, he said, they again moved to the first song they had danced to at their wedding, John Legend’s “All of Me.”

“My wife was my life,” Smith said.

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The Death of 41

“The Death of 41”

Mr. “Read my lips; no new taxes!” is dead. I decided to dash out a cartoon about the first Bush President. I never liked him, nor did he get my vote.

I just glanced at the glowing obits being proffered by the legacy media. CNN, The New York Times and others seem quite reverential and respectful of “Poppy” Bush. After all, he was instrumental in furthering an opaque government and the Deep State that now controls most of the media arms. He was the first to promote the “New World Order” that socialists want. Bush was friends with Obama and the Clintons. In fact, the Bushes voted for Hillary, not Trump. Its no wonder the fake media is gushing praise for the globalist H. W. Bush.

H.W. Bush greatly deepened the swamp Trump now has to drain.