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Justices consider whether trafficking defense applies in homicide cases

The Wisconsin Supreme Court debated Tuesday whether to allow a female accused of murdering a man to argue at trial that the homicide was justified, as she was a victim of sex trafficking.

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Justices consider whether trafficking defense applies in homicide cases


This case could help to define the extent to which victims of trafficking are protected across the country.

Prosecutors claim that Chrystul Kizer shot Randall Volar at his Kenosha house, then set fire to the house and took his BMW in 2018.

Kizer, who was just 17 years old at the time, claims she met Volar through a sex trading website. He then went on to sexually assault Kizer and traffic her to other people. According to a criminal complaint, she told detectives that Volar tried to touch her and that she shot him. She is facing charges of arson, theft, and first-degree intentional murder.

Kizer's lawyers argue that Kizer is immune from prosecution under a 2008 state statute that exempts victims of sex trafficking of any offenses that were committed because of being trafficked. According to Legal Action of Wisconsin which provides legal aid to the poor, almost 40 states have passed laws providing sex trafficking victims some criminal immunity.

In June, an appellate court ruled that Kizer could present the case to the jury. The state Supreme Court affirmed Kizer's claim that the immunity statute cannot be extended to homicide.

Katie York, Kizer's lawyer, said Tuesday during oral arguments that the prosecutors are wrong.

York stated that York was correct in saying that York had chosen the wording for 'any offense'. They could have restricted immunity to certain crimes, but they didn't."

Timothy Barber, Assistant Attorney, stated that York's interpretation would allow for unprecedented expansion in self-defense doctrine. It will remove any doubts about whether killing someone is reasonable or necessary.

Barber stated that "this cannot be what the Legislature intended." "The statute does not permit the state to kill someone in order to escape a trafficking situation."

He also claimed that the shooting was not due to trafficking, as Kizer had traveled to Kenosha in order to see Volar. Kizer had plenty of time to consider shooting him.

York argued that most of the evidence has not been presented in the case and that a jury should be allowed the decide how closely the shootings and the alleged trafficking were related.

The concepts were not understood by the justices. Conservative Patience Roggensack said that the law seems to violate established self-defense doctrine. It was "a real conundrum", she said, and Kizer's case was "really bad" for her.

Roggensack stated, "You're telling me this is stronger than self defense." "(Kizer), doesn't have the burden of proving there's no way around the bush. She shot him in his head. It was an absolute privilege for her to do so under the statute.

Jill Karofsky was the director of the Office of Crime Victim Services of the state Justice Department before she became a judge. She responded with disbelief to Barber’s argument that the shooting was not a result of trafficking, saying that trafficking is not a one-off crime and that victims can remain trapped there for many years.

Karofsky, a liberal, stated that "I believe what the other side says is it's directly a result of these years of abuse." "I don't understand. I don't understand your argument."

The Associated Press doesn't usually identify victims of sexual assault. However, Kizer spoke out from prison with The Washington Post and discussed her case.

It is not clear when the justices will rule. Legal experts believe that their decision could be a precedent in determining how much criminal immunity applies to other states.

Kizer has been supported by more than a dozen antiviolence organizations from across the country. They claim that victims of trafficking may feel they must escape by taking matters into their own hands.

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