Gov. Gavin Newsom has granted clemency to a California woman who was sentenced to life in prison at the age of 17 for fatally shooting the man who had abused and trafficked her.
On July 1, Sara Kruzan received a pardon from Newsom after serving 18 years in jail for the 1994 murder. 2013 saw her release on parole.
“Ms. Kruzan committed a crime in which the victim died. The pardon states that since that time, Ms. Kruzan has changed her life and committed herself to volunteering. This leniency for Ms. Kruzan does not downplay or excuse her behavior or the harm it did. It does acknowledge the self-transformation work she has since done.
Kruzan, who was allegedly subjected to physical abuse, was just 11 years old when George Gilbert “G.G.” Howard allegedly used the promise of ice cream to entice her into his red Mustang. On her first night on the streets, the 31-year-old man forced her to have sex with 11 different men.
Years later, while carrying out a scheme to rob the pimp, she shot Howard.
Kruzan was on the honor roll and participated in track while growing up in Riverside, California. Her mother used narcotics at home. Kruzan’s mother acknowledged assaulting her when she was younger. In the young girl’s life, Howard took on the role of a father figure.
In a 2013 YouTube interview, Kruzan stated, “Gigi would start to take me and my small friends roller skating or to the mall and whatnot.”
Kruzman was trained by Howard for three years before he “broke her in” and began selling her to other men.
According to Kruzan, Gigi worked from six in the evening to five thirty and six in the morning. “The girls would bring their money and give it to him. He was married to all of us. I guess. That’s how they do.”
At the age of 15, Kruzan moved in with her grandma. At age 16, she began dating Johnny Otis, who persuaded her to seek retribution from Howard for harming her. To rob Howard, Otis and his uncle came up with a scheme. In a motel room where her aunt, Anne Rogan, claimed she had been told to kill the guy, Kruzan consented to meet Howard.
I believe the man at the time threatened her lover when he stated to her, “Well, I want you to get G.G.’s money, and I want you to shoot him, and if you don’t do this, I’m going to kill your mother.
Apparently, she shot him when he started to take out a sex toy. She started shooting him because she was so terrified of all the abuse.
Kruzan was prosecuted as an adult and convicted guilty of first-degree murder after her attorney reportedly advised her not to take a plea bargain. According to reports, prosecutors added a four-year consecutive firearm enhancement to the life term.
In 2010, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger commuted her sentence from 25 years to life. The court was subsequently urged by her attorneys to order a new trial for Kruzan. Kamala Harris, the attorney general of California at the time, contended that Kruzan was not a victim of domestic abuse since she was associated with Howard on a professional level rather than as a romantic partner.
Harris later made a U-turn. In January 2013, the accusations against Kruzan were downgraded to second-degree manslaughter, resulting in a sentence of 19 years and the possibility of release. In 2017, California ceased detaining kids for prostitution.
In a 2012 letter of apology to the court, Harris stated: “Ms. Kruzan’s unfortunate circumstances and the fact that she was a sexually exploited kid is the antithesis of what is generally thought of as ‘dating.’” “However, we acknowledge that it might apply here or in other situations.”
These days, Kruzan devotes her time to raising her daughter, who is 7 years old. She describes her current state as “a life built on quicksand,” continuing to deal with the trauma of the past.