A woman who was sentenced to life in prison for killing the man who trafficked her as a teenager has been pardoned. Sara Kruzan was only 16 when she murdered George Gilbert Howard in 1995. She claimed that Howard had repeatedly sexually abused her and trafficked her when she was only a child.
- Kruzan’s sentence has been commuted before. In 2010, then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger commuted her sentence to 25 years to life. Then, in 2013, she was re-sentenced to five years to life for second-degree murder plus four years for firearm enhancement, equaling 19 years to life. She was then released as she had served 18 years behind bars.
- She’s now been given a full pardon. California Governor Gavin Newsom completely wiped Kruzan’s record, effectively restoring her innocence. “When Ms. Kruzan was 16 years old, she fatally shot the man who had abused her and trafficked her for sex,” the pardon reads. “Ms. Kruzan has submitted to this office a formal application for executive clemency in the form of a gubernatorial pardon. She has provided evidence that she is living an upright life and has demonstrated her fitness for restoration of civic rights and responsibilities.”
- Kruzan “transformed her life” while in prison. One of the reasons Governor Newsom granted the pardon request was that Kruzan completely changed while serving her sentence. “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,” he said in the statement. “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. By the laws of this state it is proper that I, as Governor of the State of California, give testimony that, by completion of her sentence and good conduct in the community, Ms. Kruzan merits this pardon.”
- Kruzan was one of 17 people to be pardoned by the governor this week. Others included 82-year-old Henry Pachnowski, who was born to Polish parents imprisoned in Nazi labor camps during WWII, and Steve Kirkendoll, who was sentenced to three concurrent terms for robbery in 1977 and 1978.