Court Lets Homicide Defendant Use Sex Trafficking Defense

Chrystul Kizer will have to provide evidence for the claim, Wisconsin decision says
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 6, 2022 5:06 PM CDT
Sex Trafficking Victim Defense Can Be Used in Homicide Trial
Chrystul Kizer, right, and her attorney, Larisa Benitez-Morgan, sit in court in Kenosha County in 2020.   (Paul Williams/The Kenosha News via AP, File)

A defendant will be allowed to argue in her trial defense that she killed a man because he sexually abused her for years, the Wisconsin Supreme Court decided Wednesday. The state's affirmative defense law was designed to safeguard sex trafficking victims from facing prosecution for "any offense committed as a direct result" of being trafficked, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Chrystul Kizer was 17 when she was charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the death of Randall P. Volar III, 34, who was shot in the head in 2018. The Supreme Court upheld a lower court's ruling after the trial judge disallowed the defense.

The court considered the "direct result" wording in the law but decided the statute doesn't define the phrase, per NBC News. "Human trafficking can trap victims in a cycle of seemingly inescapable abuse that can continue for months or even years," the decision says. Because of that, a crime that doesn't occur immediately after trafficking could still be a result of it, the court wrote, "so long as there is still the necessary logical connection between the offense and the trafficking."

Kizer, now 22, is awaiting trial. The court did not rule on whether the jury will be given instructions on considering this defense at trial. She can't just make the argument, the court said. To present the defense, Kizer will have to provide the court with "some evidence" to support it. The law does not require that the person accused of abuse be prosecuted on trafficking charges, per the Journal Sentinel. (Read more homicide stories.)

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