MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A sex trafficking's victim accused of killing the man who allegedly abused her can now argue she was justified in killing him, according to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in a 4-3 decision Wednesday, July 6.
Wednesday's decision could help define the limits of criminal liability for trafficking victims across the country. Prosecutors allege Chrystul Kizer shot Randall Volar at his Kenosha home in 2018 when she was 17.
She contends Volar was trafficking her for sex and wants to argue that she's immune from prosecution under a state law that absolves trafficking victims of any offenses resulting from being trafficked.
Prosecutors maintained that immunity can't possibly extend to homicide.
"The Supreme Court decision today impacts the case entirely because it now opens the legal door for Chrystul Kizer to present a legal defense to the crimes for which she's charged," said Defense Attorney Julius Kim with Kim & LaVoy.
This changes a lot, according to Kim and sexual abuse advocates, they say now her attorneys can potentially win by saying then 17-year-old Kizer was in the right when she shot and killed the man who allegedly tried to traffic her and others.
"Previously Chrystul Kizer wanted to argue that she was justified so to speak in the homicide of this alleged victim because she was a victim of human sex trafficking and the state had argued that that was not a proper legal remedy for these types of offenses," said Kaizer.
He said it with this Supreme Court decision, if she can prove to the court she was a victim of sex trafficking to the court.
"The burden shifts back to the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the reason she committed these offenses was not because she was a victim of human sex trafficking but for other reasons," said Kim.
Kim's point is a prospect Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault [WCASA] officials said they're pleased to hear.
"Her case really outlines how trauma impacts sexual violence survivors, how trauma impacts child sex trafficking survivors," said WCASA Policy and Systems Director Ian Henderson.
He said they're hoping this can open the doors for more sexual violence survivors.
"To have the ability to use this language if they're accused of crimes that are related to their trafficking," said Henderson.
Kim said this case could also have implications for other states that have similar statues. At least 40 states have given victims at least some immunity according to Legal Action Wisconsin.
Kizer's attorney, Katie York, had this to say:
“Chrystul Kizer deserves a chance to present her defense and today’s decision will allow her to do that, while the legal process on this matter is far from over, we, along with Chrystul and her family, believe the decision today affirms the legal rights provided by Wisconsin statute to victims of sex trafficking facing criminal charges.”