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Tuesday, 28 September 2021 16:53

Wisconsin Supreme Court To Weigh In On Kenosha Homicide

Public opinion and Wisconsin criminal law are often in harmony. A recent homicide in Kenosha that involves the actions of a sex trafficking victim has replaced that harmony with a large fault line.

The case of Chrystul Kizer has made local and national news. Kizer was 17 years old when she killed her alleged abuser, started his home on fire and stole his car.

Her lawyers argue that she snapped after years of trafficking and abuse, a stance that has garnered sympathy from the general public and advocacy groups across the nation.

Wisconsin has laws on the books that allow defendants to present an affirmative defense that any offense committed was a “ direct result” of sex trafficking, "a reflection of the broad, national consensus that human trafficking is a uniquely horrific crime, and courts should take its devastating impact into account when victims are accused of criminal activity." However, that defense has never been presented in a case involving a homicide.

The trial judge in Kizer's homicide case sided with the prosecution’s position that those laws are meant to prevent trafficking victims from being prosecuted for prostitution and not to excuse violent crimes. The Court of Appeals ruled otherwise, stating that Kizer’s attorneys could present the defense.

The final decision will be made by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The court has agreed to hear the case and decide whether her status as a sex trafficking victim can be used as a defense against the first-degree intentional homicide charges she faces.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s ruling in this case will provide much-needed clarity on just how broad the meaning of "direct result" is and whether it extends as far as justifying an intentional homicide by a victim of human trafficking. 

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