The Criminal Justice System Didn't Fail Cyntoia Brown.


by Donovan X. Ramsey

This piece was published in partnership with The Marshall Project

In 2004, 16-year-old Cyntoia Brown shot and killed a man. She was working as a prostitute and the man she killed had allegedly solicited her for sex.

According to Brown, he picked her up off the street in a truck and drove her to his home, where the two got into bed. Brown says that, at some point, the man reached suddenly under his bed. She thought he was reaching for a weapon, she says, so she pulled a handgun from her purse on the nightstand beside her and shot him. She took some money and two guns from the home before leaving.

Brown says she was forced into prostitution by Garion "Cut Throat" McGlothen, a pimp, after running away from home in Nashville. Brown also alleges that McGlothen regularly physically abused her and forced her to do drugs. She returned to a hotel room she shared with McGlothen after her alleged crime. It was there that she was later arrested.

Brown said she acted in self-defense. She claimed the man behaved oddly throughout their time together and showed her his collection of guns before the two got into bed. Still, prosecutors charged Brown with first-degree murder, deciding that she’d killed the man in cold blood in order to rob him.

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