The verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial was frustrating, alarming, and predictable. But it was also revealing.
Chrystul Kizer is Black Woman who is a sex trafficking victim that killed her alleged trafficker three years ago when she was 17-years-old. She is claiming self-defense per the report from NBC News.
What also makes this similar to the Rittenhouse case is that this trial is being held in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where he was found not guilty. Now supporters of Kizer feel that if Rittenhouse can successfully claim self-defense, why can’t she?
Rittenhouse went to Kenosha, he was carrying an AR-15, he chose to be Kenosha. Do we think Kizer chose to be a sex trafficking victim? I highly doubt it.
According to NBC News, Kizer is being charged with five felonies for killing Randall Volar III, the alleged trafficker who abused Kizer for years when she was underage.
From NBC News:
Following the Rittenhouse verdict, demonstrators chanted Kizer’s name along with the names of the men Rittenhouse shot as they marched through the downtown area to protest the acquittal, according to the Journal Sentinel. Social media users have also called for justice for Kizer, comparing her case to Rittenhouse’s.
Kizer was held in jail until June 2020, when several groups raised $400,000 for her bail. Her attorneys are invoking a state law known as “affirmative defense,” which means Kizer’s act was a “direct result” of her having been a victim of sex trafficking. An appellate court ruled that Kizer may be able to use the defense, according to Kenosha News, and the state Supreme Court is now reviewing that decision. This particular self-defense argument has never been used before in a homicide case in Wisconsin, according to NPR.
Julius Kim, an attorney in Wisconsin and a former prosecutor, said the Rittenhouse case used a “more traditional self-defense claim” than Kizer’s because video showed him in “imminent danger.”
“The reason the state balked at this particular use of affirmative defense is, they’re saying they don’t think that affirmative defense should apply to first-degree intentional homicide cases because that sets off a dangerous precedent,” Kim said. “What they’re saying is if someone commits a first-degree intentional homicide but shows some evidence they committed as a direct result of trafficking, that essentially gives people a license to kill their trafficker.
The reason people are so adamant about Kizer finding justice is that in self-defense cases, Black people are not often acquitted compared to White people. But in this case, Rittenhouse and Kizer have many similar circumstances and if she is found guilty of murder, people will have good reason to question that result.
Marc Wilson is going through a similar situation in Statesboro, Georgia for killing a white teenager in self-defense. It’s still unclear what his future will hold.
From NBC News:
Kizer was 17 when she shot Volar in the head and set his home on fire before stealing his car in June 2018. Kizer said she met Volar, then 34, through Backpage — a now-shuttered sex ads website — and he sold her to men for sex. Kizer said Volar had been filming his abuse of her since she was 16 and she acted in self-defense after he pinned her to the floor when she refused to have sex with him. Prosecutors have argued that Kizer simply wanted to steal Volar’s car. But in a 2019 Washington Post interview from jail, Kizer said that she shot Volar in self-defense.
It was later revealed by The Washington Post that both prosecutors and Kenosha police had evidence that Volar, who is white, had abused Kizer and other underage Black girls. Just months before his death, a 15-year-old girl accused him of drugging and threatening to kill her, according to the Post. And police found exploitative videos of Volar abusing girls who appeared as young as 12, the Post reported.
Unfortunately, Kizer has to go through something like this. She was fighting for her life against a man that planned on sexually abusing and trafficking her. People should rightfully so be supporting her to be found not guilty of protecting herself from someone who was planning to sell her for sex.
But the circumstances that benefitted Rittenhouse may not benefit Kizer. Rittenhouse was a white man with an all-white jury and a judge that favored his defense. The judge didn’t allow for the people Rittenhosue killed to be called victims.
Will Kizer receive similar treatment? We’ll have to wait and see.