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Woman sentenced for killing her abuser as a teen pardoned by Gov. Gavin Newsom

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — When Sara Kruzan was 16 years old, she shot and killed the man who she says had abused her and trafficked her for sex since she was 13. Almost 30 years later, she has been pardoned by California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

In 1995, Kruzan was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for first-degree murder plus a four-year consecutive firearm enhancement after being tried as an adult. She later had her sentence commuted twice until she was released after almost two decades in prison.

Since then, Kruzan has become an advocate for policy reform, protecting sex trafficking victims and ending juvenile life without parole sentencing nationwide.

“Having experienced layers of trauma, I know there is deep value and appreciation in healing, and having the desire and courage to heal,” she wrote, according to the legal advocacy group Uncommon Law where she has worked as a parole justice advocate.

Newsom issued the pardon due to her work in advocacy and her journey toward healing.

“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.”

A pardon does not expunge or erase a conviction, the governor’s office stated in a press release, and is intended to remove “counterproductive barriers to employment and public service, restore civic rights and responsibilities, and prevent unjust collateral consequences of conviction.”

It is also intended to correct unjust results in the legal system, according to the governor’s office, as well as address the health needs of incarcerated people.

Newsom said he has granted 16 other pardons, 15 commutations and one medical reprieve.

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