Crime & Justice

Schwarzenegger commutes murder sentence of Riverside woman on last day in office

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On his last day as California’s governor Monday, Arnold Schwarzenegger commuted the life sentence of a Riverside woman convicted of killing a pimp 16 years ago when she was a teenager.

She’s 32 years old now. Sara Kruzan has spent half her life in prison. When she was 16 a jury convicted her of killing her pimp, a man more than twice her age.

In a recent interview with Human Rights Watch, Kruzan – who grew up in an abusive home – said the man groomed her for a life of prostitution from an early age. "But the judge said because of my crime, and he said it was well thought out, that I deserve the ‘life without.’”

Prosecutors say Kruzan planned the murder and ambushed her pimp, George Howard, in a motel room. The court sentenced her to life in prison without parole.

During the Human Rights Watch interview, Kruzan said from prison that she appealed on the grounds that she was a battered woman who’d feared for her life. “I’m very sorry to take his life like that. I definitely know I deserve punishment – you just don’t take somebody’s life and think that it’s OK.”

Because of her age and evidence of abuse, Schwarzenegger reduced Kruzan’s sentence to 25 years to life. She’ll be eligible for parole in nine years.