According to USA Today, Brown’s lawyers are requesting that the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals “weigh the constitutionality of her life sentence.” They are also urging the court to revisit the possibility of Brown’s innocence, suggesting that she may have suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome as a baby and in turn “lacked the mental capacity” to face a murder charge at the time the crime was committed.
Her legal team also noted a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, which deemed sentencing a minor to life in prison unconstitutional.
Brown’s case first gained national attention in 2010, but the sharing of her story on social media by several celebrities and activists in 2017 reignited the nationwide call for her freedom. A native of Nashville, Brown was sentenced to life behind bars at the Tennessee Prison For Women for the 2004 murder of 43-year-old Johnny Allen. Since being charged with his murder over a decade ago, Brown and her legal team have maintained that she was forced into prostitution as a teen by Garion “Cut Throat” McGlothen, whom she says acted as her pimp, physically abused her and forced her to do drugs.
Brown was in Allen’s hotel room after he picked her up from a nearby restaurant when she says she believed he turned to reach under the bed for a handgun. Fearing for her life, she fatally shot in him in the back of the head before leaving with his car to find safety.
In 2017, Brown’s story garnered massive support from the likes of Rihanna, while Kim Kardashian West even offered to have her legal team handle Cyntoia’s case.
A response from the state is expected on February 7.