Chrystul Kizer spent two years in jail after she murdered the man who sexually abused and trafficked her. With renewed support, she may finally be free of her charges.
Trigger Warning: Sexual Abuse, Gun Violence
After spending two years in prison, Chrystul Kizer, 19, was freed on Monday from a prison in Wisconsin on bail. She was incarcerated on charges of murdering her alleged sex trafficker and spent the last two years awaiting trial. The Chicago Community Bond Fund paid her $400,000 bail, The Washington Post reports. The advocacy group, which worked on freeing protestors booked during the ongoing Black Lives Matter demonstrations, was reportedly flooded by donations from supporters. Kizer finally walked out of the Kenosha County Detention Facility with two trash bags full of letters she received from supporters.
The 19-year-old's case received national attention following the upsurge in the #MeToo movement. Celebrities and activists backed her case for freedom as a Black victim of sex trafficking; in June 2018, she fatally shot Randall P. Volar, a 34-year-old white man, who was her alleged trafficker. In an extensive interview with The Washington Post last year, she explained that he had sexually abused her for over a year while handing her cash and gifts. As per court records, Volar has abused several underage Black girls. Police officials and prosecutors held video evidence of the abuse. While he was being investigated, he remained free.
On the day of his death, the abuser had pinned Kizer to the floor when she shot him twice in the head to escape. She then set his house on fire and fled using his car. Instead of taking into account her circumstances, prosecutors charged the young woman with arson and first-degree intentional homicide. The latter is punishable by a mandatory life sentence in the state of Wisconsin. According to them, her crime was "premeditated" and "part of a plan to steal Volar's BMW." However, this analysis of the incident has been largely viewed as ignoring the terrible situation Kizer was in.
Sharlyn Grace, the executive director of the Chicago Community Bond Fund, stated, "Chrystul was being victimized and abused by someone who was not effectively stopped by the current systems. That lack of protection from the systems we claim to keep us safe required that she act in self-defense to survive." Originally, the victim's bail was set at $1 million. It was lowered to $400,000 this year. Her mother was working on a fundraiser to help secure bail but was nowhere close to the required amount. After the entire nation awoke to a renewed sense of urgency, new supporters learned of Kizer's story and made donations to her cause.
At the same time, the Chicago Community Bond Fund was overflowing with more than enough funds to free protestors who had been arrested in Illinois. The organization thus believed the donations would best be utilized if donated to Kizer's fund. At just after 2 pm on Monday, she was released in downtown Kenosha. Her public defenders in the past said she would live with her mother in Milwaukee if released. Though a trial date is yet to be set, the fact that she can await trial as a free citizen - as her abuser had - is monumental.
You can sign a petition to support her here.