Chrystul Kizer, a 19-year-old who stands accused of killing her alleged sex trafficker in Wisconsin, will no longer need to post a $1 million bail in order to see her mother again.
On Thursday, a judge in Kenosha, Wis., lowered Kizer’s bond to $400,000. The state requires defendants to pay their bonds in full, but the Washington Post reports that activists are hopeful they’ll be able to raise money for the teenager.
Kizer, whose case has drawn widespread attention in recent months, was also offered a plea deal this week: if she pleads guilty to felony murder and armed robbery for killing Randy Volar, the 34-year-old man she says was paying her for sex since she was 16, she could get a reduced sentence.
Under that sentence, she could still face up to 43 years behind bars—meaning she’ll be well into middle age by the time she leaves prison. Kizer’s team of public defenders declined the plea deal because they’re still seeking an affirmative defense for their client.
Under Wisconsin state law, “affirmative defense” allows victims of sex trafficking to be acquitted for crimes they commit while they are being trafficked. In December, a judge said the law couldn’t be applied to Kizer’s murder charges. Prosecutors held that line this week, arguing that the teenager had planned to kill Volar, and thus wasn’t protecting herself.
They also tried to discredit her story. From the Post:
In the months leading up to the crime, [Prosecutor Michael] Graveley said there is evidence that Volar was trying to distance himself from Kizer, whom he had been abusing for more than a year after responding to an advertisement she posted on Backpage.com. He said Kizer told detectives that after Volar’s house was raided by the police, he offered to pay her $2,000 to “stay away from him.” She continued to text him, Graveley said, angry that he wasn’t texting her back or was blocking her number.
Kizer’s lawyers objected multiple times as Graveley brought up evidence of previous car thefts and text messages about drug deals. Graveley argued that Kizer’s account of what happened is unreliable because she has a history of lying about the crime to detectives and others.
Kizer told the Washington Post’s Jessica Contrera that Volar attempted to rape her the night she shot him twice in the head and set his home on fire. She also said Volar had arranged for other men to have sex with her over the course of the relationship—an accusation prosecutors pushed back on. (As the Post notes, in Wisconsin, “anyone who purchases a child for the purposes of a sex act is guilty of child trafficking).
Prosecutors don’t contest that Volar trafficked underage girls—before the murder, investigators found video evidence showing him sexually abusing about a dozen underage black girls, including Kizer.
Volar was arrested and charged with child enticement, second-degree sexual assault of a child, and using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime on Feb. 22, 2018. Released the same day, Volar paid no bail and was never summoned to court. He remained free while police and prosecutors continued their investigation. This includes Michael Graveley, the prosecutor trying Kizer’s case.
Kizer killed Volar in June 2018, a little more than three months after police first found out he was having sex with underage girls.
Her lawyer, Larisa Benitez-Morgan, reminded the court that she was the victim of Volar’s abuse.
“She was a child, and I think we need to keep sight of that,” Benitez-Morgan told the judge. “We have reviewed everything off of his computer and, quite frankly, it was disgusting to see some of the things this gentleman was doing to girls. Children. People far younger than Ms. Kizer.”
Kizer’s mother Devore Taylor has set up a GoFundMe to try and help pay for her child’s bond. As of Friday afternoon, it had raised a little less than $14,000.