SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday that he granted a pardon to Sara Kruzan, who was convicted of murdering a man that trafficked her when she was a teenager.
Kruzan was sentenced to prison as a 16-year-old for fatally shooting a man who had abused her and trafficked her for sex.
In 1995, a Riverside County Superior Court sentenced Kruzan to life without the possibility of parole for first-degree murder plus a four-year consecutive firearm enhancement.
Kruzan was later released from prison in 2013 after serving a total of 18 years and after the involvement of the two governors before Newsom.
The governor’s office said Kruzan submitted an application for executive clemency and provided evidence that she’s living an “upright life.” While applying for a pardon, the governor’s office said Kruzan “demonstrated her fitness for restoration of civic rights and responsibilities.”
“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,” Newsom said in his pardon. “This act of clemency for Ms. Kruzan does not minimize or forgive her conduct or the harm it caused. It does recognize the work she has done since to transform herself.”
Kruzan was one of 17 pardons Newsom granted on Friday. Newsom granted 15 commutations and one medical reprieve in his executive clemency.
Newsom is the third California governor to become involved in Kruzan’s case.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger commuted her sentence to 25 years to life in 2011. Two years later, during Jerry Brown’s term as California governor, Kruzan was resentenced to 15 years to life for second-degree murder, making it a total term of 19 years.
According to the governor’s office, a pardon “may remove counterproductive” barriers to employment and public, restore the person’s civic rights and responsibilities and prevent deportation and permanent family separation and other consequences of a conviction.
However, a pardon doesn’t expunge or erase a conviction, but the person is relieved is the legal consequences of their conviction.
A commutation modifies a sentence, meaning it gives an incarcerated individual a lesser sentence and that person may be eligible for an earlier release. The inmate would have to appear in a parole hearing to determine if they’re suitable for release.
A medical reprieve allows people classified by the state’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation as a high medical risk to serve their sentences in appropriate alternative placements within public health and public safety guidelines.
Since he’s been in office, Newsom has granted a total of 129 pardons, 123 commutations and 35 reprives.