Advocates Fight for Chrystul Kizer After Rittenhouse’s Self-Defense Win
In SummaryKyle Rittenhouse’s high-profile case has sparked a renewed push for justice for sex trafficking victim Chrystul Kizer, who was jailed in the same city.
WARNING: This story contains discussions of sex trafficking.
Why is Chrystul Kizer still in legal trouble if Wisconsin’s self-defense statute can protect Kyle Rittenhouse? Advocates are looking for an answer to that question as they protest for justice for the child sex trafficking survivor.
NBC News reported that Kizer, like Rittenhouse, was 17 when she shot Randall Volar III in the head and set his house on fire in June 2018. The two had met on the sex classifieds website Backpage, and Volar eventually started to sell her to men for sex.
Volar had been documenting her abuse since she was 16 years old, according to Kizer, and she acted in self-defense after he pinned her to the floor when she refused to have sex with him—but prosecutors said she just wanted to steal his car.
Kizer was kept in jail from 2018 until June 2020, when she was released after a $400,000 bail was obtained by multiple organizations, including the Chicago Community Bond Fund.
“My heart and my concern is with Chrystul Kizer. She is not forgotten,” said protester Lorna Revere, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “The anger that hits all people, Black people, white people, that are concerned about the racism that this country faces, is like — it just stabs you in the chest time and time and time again.”
Kizer’s lawyers are relying on “affirmative defense,” which states that her actions were a direct outcome of her being a sex trafficking victim.
She is charged with five felonies, including first-degree intentional homicide.
Before being found not guilty on Nov. 19, Rittenhouse faced several counts, including first-degree reckless homicide and first-degree intentional homicide. The charges were the result of a shooting during social unrest in Kenosha last summer, in which Rittenhouse killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, Anthony Huber, 26 and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, 27.
Rittenhouse’s case is different, according to former Wisconsin prosecutor Julius Kim, because it employed a more classic self-defense claim than Kizer’s based on video showing him in danger.
“The reason the state balked at this particular use of affirmative defense is, they’re saying they don’t think that affirmative defense should apply to first-degree intentional homicide cases because that sets off a dangerous precedent,” Kim said.
“I understand why supporters of Chrystul Kizer feel like Chrystul Kizer should be allowed to avail herself to the affirmative defense that she wants to,” he added, noting that a lot of people are following the case.
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