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19-year-old sex trafficking victim faces life in prison for killing rapist who sold her for sex

Chrystul Kizer was one of about a dozen victims who were sexually abused and filmed without consent by Randy Volar.

19-year-old sex trafficking victim faces life in prison for killing rapist who sold her for sex
Cover Image Source: Getty Images

19-year-old Chrystul Kizer pulled at the rosary around her neck with handcuffed arms as she sat between the public defenders assigned to her. The November hearing would decide whether the teen deserved to spend a lifetime in jail for murdering her alleged sex-trafficker while he attempted to rape her. Her lawyer, mother, and the courtroom full of supporters hoped and prayed a law that gives sex-trafficking victims an "affirmative defense" in most states would serve as Kizer's saving grace. However, the law had never been used in a homicide or any other violent crime and unfortunately for Kizer, her case wouldn't be the one to set precedent.



 

 

According to Daily Mail, Kizer met the then 33-year-old Randy Volar in 2016 when she was 16. She was one of about a dozen victims Volar sexually abused and filmed without consent and on the night of June 5, 2018, the teen shot the sex-trafficker in the head twice at his home in Kenosha, Wisconsin. She then fled the scene in his BMW after setting his body on fire and police officials located the vehicle hours later in Milwaukee. Evidence collected from inside the BMW linked the teen to the crime and upon questioning, she confessed to the murder.



 

 

Kizer's case opened a can of worms about how Wisconsin handles human-trafficking cases. Police records show that Volar had been arrested four months prior to his death. He was charged with child enticement, using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime, and second-degree sexual assault of a child—a felony punishable by up to 40 years in state prison. Evidence collected from his home indicated that Kizer was one of his victims and yet, despite the seriousness of the charges he faced, Volar was inexplicably released from jail the day after his arrest, without bail, and remained free until the night he was shot. 



 

Speaking to The Washington Post, Miriam Falk, a veteran sex crimes prosecutor in Wisconsin, stated that these charges typically lead to a substantial cash bail. In cases where video evidence is involved, prosecutors consider it a "dream" that "would be a very difficult case to defend," said Falk. And yet, Volar was released. Even 3 months later, when the police finally sent the case to the district attorney’s office, neither was a sex crimes case was entered into the Wisconsin court system nor was Volar taken into custody.



 

 

As shocking as these facts are, none of it was of any help to Kizer's case. District Attorney Michael Graveley, whose office held off on prosecuting Volar despite knowing of the evidence against him, charged the teen with first-degree intentional homicide and homicide. The prosecutor claimed text messages Kizer sent to friends and a selfie she posted on social media hours before Volar's death with the caption "My Mugshot," indicated that the murder was pre-meditated. However, the teen maintains it was an act of self-defense after Volar drugged her and tried to have sex with her.



 

The teen claimed she met Volar through Backpage.com—a site that served as one of the country's largest marketplaces for prostitution before being shut down last year for facilitating human trafficking. She claimed that despite knowing she was a 16-year-old at the time, he groomed her by buying her expensive gifts and giving her money to bring home to her family. Volar allegedly made it clear that he expectedly his generosity to be paid back in the form of sex. "I told him that I never wanted to do that. He said that I had to owe him that," said Kizer.



 

 

She said he also sold her to other men his age or older through Backpage.com, drove her to hotel rooms for meet-ups, and pocketed the money she earned. She claimed she tried to distance herself from him as he became more demanding and even mustered up the courage to tell him that she couldn't see him anymore as she wanted to become serious with her boyfriend. "He had started to talk violent and stuff. I was going to stop talking to him, and he said if I did that he was going to kill me," she said.



 

In May 2018, the teen's boyfriend at the time grew suspicious that she was being followed and gave her a .380 pistol. He also taught Kizer how to use the weapon. The day before the teen shot Volar, she got into a fight with her boyfriend and fearing that he would physically hurt her—as he'd done in the past—she texted Volar asking if she could come to his house. She took the pistol with her. "I had went into the house... He had ordered some pizza. We were smoking, and he asked me if I wanted to drink any liquor," Kizer said.



 

"And then he had gave me this drug. I don't know what it's called. And after that, we started to watch movies... And then, the drug, it made me feel weird or whatever. He started to touch my leg and then like I had jumped and tell him that I didn't want to do that. I just thought that I didn't want to do that stuff anymore because I was trying to change. I tried to get up, to get away from him but I had tripped, and I fell on the floor, and he had got on top of me. And he was trying to like, rip my pants off, my jeans that I had on... I was, like, wiggling. Cause once me and [Nelson] had fought, he had tried to pin me down, but I'll wiggle to get loose," she added.



 

While Kizer claims she doesn't remember retrieving the pistol, she does still hear the noise it made when she pulled the trigger. "Like a pop. A high pop," she said. Neither does she remember starting the fire that neighbors reported to police at around 5 a.m. Although the teen's claims of abuse were already well supported by the cache of evidence police had collected in their investigation of Volar, prosecutors argued that the affirmative defense that Kizer and her family had laid their hopes on, did not apply to her case as the murder was allegedly premeditated. 



 

Earlier this month, Judge David P Wilk delivered his verdict. "The court is satisfied that a blanket affirmative defense to all acts leads to an absurd result," he announced. Wilk stated that allowing the teen to use it would set an extremely dangerous precedent for other cases involving trafficking victims accused of violent crimes. With the teen subsequently returned to jail to await her trial, her lawyer now plans to appeal the ruling which could delay the jury trial for months.

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