Legal elite stand up for Cyntoia Brown

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — There's a young woman sitting in a Tennessee prison waiting to see if Governor Haslam will end her life sentence.

It's a long shot for Cyntoia Brown -- because she killed a man. Still, there's no silencing the judges, a former state supreme court justice and attorneys who are all putting their careers on the line to see her free.

FOX 17 News wants to warn you some of this material is graphic.

Those in her corner say to know her is to know hope.

“I am confident that Cyntoia Brown is going to get out of prison," Brown's former attorney Kathy Sinback said. "She is the example of resilience. True resilience over childhood experiences that were so traumatic.”

In a transfer hearing from juvenile to adult court, Brown herself explains how the 43-year-old realtor treated her when he bought her for sex at just 16.

“He just grabbed me like in between my legs," Brown said. "It just sent these chills up my spine.”

Cyntoia Brown admits to killing the realtor, saying she thought he was about to kill her.

“He rolls over and reaches to the side of the bed or something and I'm thinking, 'No, he's not fixing to hit me. He's fixing to get a gun,' I just grabbed a gun and I shot him,” Brown said.

Cyntoia Brown is now locked away for life. One of her pro bono attorneys adds, “Cyntoia's brain we have proven was impaired at the time she took this action.”

Court documents show Cyntoia's birth mother drank a fifth of alcohol a day while pregnant, damaging her brain development and impulse control.

“She was being pimped by a man who had beaten her, drugged her, raped her, abused her in every possible way and then he sent her out on the street with a gun to sell her body to a 43 year old man when she was 16 years old," Attorney Charles Bone said. "It's the most tragic story you could ever understand.”

Bone has assembled an impressive team of former and current judges, attorneys, legislators and juvenile experts.

“That’s what's so amazing, these people have stood up for her," Bone said. "There are 35 letters including one from her that says 'I hope you'll find me worthy. I hope you'll find me worthy' and that's what we hope.”

There's letter after letter like the one written by the founder of End Slavery Tennessee.

“These are children who are running away from something who are being abused and endured some type of trauma and they are ripe for exploitation," Derri Smith said.

The clemency packet also includes a letter from Representative Jeremy Faison, stating, “there's times we have to stop and say you know what, I was wrong. We messed up. We got it wrong and the people appreciate that.”

Plus, there are plenty of celebrities coming to her defense too. Cyntoia's already served 15 years of her life sentence.

“I think the governor is a really good man and I think Cyntoia is the perfect candidate. So she can be allowed to tell the world her story and to help others avoid what she experienced as a child," Bone said. "We've had a number of people reach out to him and say Cyntoia is a special case and say would you please please, please consider taking action sooner? But, it's all up to this one man.”

Meanwhile, Gov. Haslam has said, “we’ll review the facts of the case and do the best we can to come to the right decision.”

A growing army of supporters worldwide say Cyntoia's voice would have more impact on the outside than silenced inside these prison walls.