CBS/AP December 8, 2018, 3:31 PM Cyntoia Brown must serve 51 years before eligible for release, court says

Cyntoia Brown, a woman serving a life sentence for killing a man when she was a 16-year-old prostitute, enters her clemency hearing on Wednesday, May 23, 2018.

Lacy Atkins /The Tennessean via AP

ASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee's Supreme Court is clarifying that Cyntoia Brown, a woman convicted of first-degree murder as a teen, could be released from prison after serving at least 51 years.

The court issued the opinion Thursday at the request of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is considering the case of Brown, 30. She has drawn celebrity support from Kim Kardashian West, Rihanna and others as she fights her life sentence for killing a man when she was 16.

Brown's lawyers have said she was a sex-trafficking victim who killed 43-year-old Johnny Allen because she feared for her life. Prosecutors said she shot him and robbed him.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against life-without-parole sentences for juveniles, but Tennessee has argued successfully in lower courts that Brown does have a possibility for parole after 51 years. The ruling Thursday goes to the federal appellate court for review.

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