LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A Riverside woman who has been imprisoned for 19 years, will soon have her first taste of freedom in nearly two decades.
Sara Kruzan, who was forced into prostitution at the age of 13, shot and killed her pimp three years later — in 1994 at the Dynasty Suites Motel.
In 1995, Kruzan, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
In 2011, she was granted clemency by then-Governor Schwarzenegger who commuted her sentence to 25 years with the possibility of parole.
A parole board reduced her sentence to 15 years, plus four years, in January 2013 effectively freeing her.
Late on Friday, Governor Jerry Brown said he would not reverse the parole board’s decision.
Kruzan, now 35, can be freed at any moment.
CBS2’s Melanie Woodrow spoke to two of the women’s elated aunts Saturday evening.
“I remember reading the headline, in the Riverside newspaper,” says aunt Anne Rogan, “it said ‘Teen Prostitute Kills Pimp.'”
Rogan says she didn’t know her niece as a prostitute, she only knew her as a precocious 16-year-old.
What her aunt also didn’t know, reported Woodrow, is that Kruzan — almost since birth — was emotionally, physically and sexually abused by her caregivers.
“I couldn’t fathom it, I couldn’t wrap my mind around it,” said Rogan, “That was something that happened to other people’s families, not my family.”
The judge didn’t take her horrific childhood or past into account when sentencing came down. That is something her aunt also can’t understand.
“I don’t think everything [in her past] was considered,” she said.
Her family and supporters lobbied hard for her release almost since the day Kruzan first went behind bars.
“It seemed like it became a political football,” said Rogan.
Her aunts are looking forward and not backwards.
“I’m just excited and happy for her,” said Kruzan’s aunt Cecilia Swiney.
“Things happen to us,” says Rogan, “but then we evolve and we change and we become strong and we become better, and that is what has happened to Sara.”