Cynthia Brown, who served 15 years of a life sentence for killing a man when she was 16, has been released from a Nashville prison, early Wednesday.
Earlier this year, then-Gov. Bill Haslam took the unusual step of granting Brown clemency for what he called a "tragic and complex case," a major victory for Brown and her supporters, who for years have maintained that the 2004 killing was an act of self-defense.
Over the years, the fight for Brown's release has brought prominent lawyers to her defense, a PBS documentary and backing from celebrities including Kim Kardashian West and Rihanna. Her case also inspired the introduction of state legislation aimed at protecting minors who are victims of sex trafficking.
She never testified during her trial, but during her appeals process, Brown, who had been a teenage runaway, took the stand and described how at the time of the killing, she was ensnared in an abusive relationship with a drug dealer known as Cut Throat, who forced her into prostitution.
Her case gained new scrutiny with the rise of the #MeToo movement, as her supporters drew attention to the case using the hashtag #FreeCynthiaBrown. Criminal justice reform advocates portrayed Brown's case as an example of the unreasonable incarceration of a teenager who was a victim of sex trafficking.