Lawmakers ask Haslam to grant clemency to Cyntoia Brown

Posted at 10:53 AM, Dec 14, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Tennessee lawmakers held a news conference Friday morning, asking Governor Bill Haslam to grant clemency to Cyntoia Brown.

Senator-elect Brenda Gilmore was joined by representatives John Ray Clemmons and Rick Staples, along with representatives-elect Jason Potts and Vincent Dixie. Members of the Georgia Legislature and civil rights organizations were also present.

"In the interest of justice, Cyntoia Brown should be set free. And again, we're asking that we establish a time clock and that Governor Bill Haslam will do that before he leaves office," said Gilmore.

Gilmore said they’re asking Haslam to grant clemency by January 19.

Read more: Debate continues over Cyntoia Brown clemency

The now 30-year-old woman was 16 when she received a life sentence for the murder of 43-year-old Johnny Allen.

The Tennessee Supreme Court just ruled any juvenile convicted of first-degree murder after June 1995 is eligible for release after 51 years – meaning Brown will still serve her life sentence.

In Tennessee, all life sentences have a chance for parole after 51 years.

Haslam said earlier this week he is considering pardoning Brown, but it's a complicated decision and he wants to review the case and all of the people connected.

Friends of Allen expressed their opposition Friday.

Ben Lamb said he's a friend of Allen who was supposed to go look at houses together the day after Allen's murder.

"Every time that this has come up, I've heard people say all sorts of heinous things about Johnny," said Lamb. "The story has changed and grown through the years until where we are now and it's not the Johnny I knew and it's not the johnny that any of the people who knew him knew."

Lamb said Brown's story has progressively gained support through the years, but the friends and family of Allen are rarely heard from.

"We may know whatever happened truthfully that night," said Lamb. "Because we have Cyntoia's story, which has changed over the years, and, unfortunately, the only other person that was there is dead. So, what we have to go on what we knew of Johnny. What we knew of his life, his character."