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WI Court Rules For Homicide Defendant In Sex Trafficking Case

A Wisconsin law meant to protect sex trafficking victims from being prosecuted for “any offense committed as a direct result" of being trafficked could become a defense to homicide, the state supreme court ruled Wednesday by a 4 to 3 vote. In a case closely watched by victims' rights advocates, lawyers sought to raise the affirmative defense for Chrystul Kizer. She was 17 in 2018, when she was charged with first-degree intentional homicide of Randall Volar of Kenosha. Prosecutors say she went to Volar's home on June 5, 2018, shot him in the head, set a fire in his home and stole his BMW, computer and cash. They say it was a premeditated crime to steal the car. Kizer's lawyers argued she had snapped after years of abuse by Volar, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

In Wednesday's 4-3 decision, the supreme court upheld an appeals court ruling that said Kizer should be allowed to at least make an argument that her actions resulted from being trafficked by Volar. A trial judge had foreclosed even the possibility. "We do not decide, however, whether Kizer is entitled to a jury instruction on this defense at trial as to some or all of the charges against her. Both parties acknowledge that regardless of how we interpret (the statute) it will be available to Kizer at trial only if she puts forth 'some evidence' to support its application," the majority opinion said. A 2008 state law provides an affirmative defense for victims of human and child sex trafficking to “any offense committed as a direct result" of those crimes. It applies even if no one was ever prosecuted for the trafficking. Nearly 40 states have passed laws that give trafficking victims at least some level of criminal immunity, according to Legal Action of Wisconsin.


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