When Chrystul Kizer was 16, she met a 33-year-old man, Randy Volar, who sexually abused her and several other minors, frequently saving videos of their encounters.
Although Volar was arrested in February 2019 on child sexual assault charges, he was released without bail, remaining free for three months even after police discovered evidence that he was abusing a dozen underage black girls, according to the The Washington Post at the time.
Justice was not served until Chrystul, then 17, went to Volar’s home one June night, shot him twice in the head, set his body on fire, and fled in his car, according to the police report.
District Attorney Michael Graveley, who prosecuted the initial evidence against Volar by releasing him, charged Chrystul with arson and first-degree murder, a crime that carries a mandatory life sentence in Wisconsin.
Graveley accused Chrystul of planning to kill Volar so she could steal his BMW.
At a time when the country is on fire from the anger contained in years of structural racism, cases like Chrystul’s are yet another argument for those who seek to dismantle a white supremacist system.
The young woman, now 19, not only pleaded guilty, but also claims that she was defending herself because, when she told Volar that night that she did not want to have sex with him, he pinned her down.
“I didn’t intentionally try to do this,” she added.
Last Monday, Chrystul was released on bail, after two years awaiting trial, according to the Post.
The case is reminiscent of Cyntoia Brown’s, who was 15 at the time that an armed man was soliciting her for sex; Brown was serving what could have been a life sentence for killing her abuser, but was released on parole last fall after activists worked to demand her freedom.
In Chrystul’s case, she has also received support from activists who are helping her win her freedom. The Chicago Community Bond Fund, a defense group that has gone viral in recent weeks for its involvement in the release of jailed protesters during Black Lives Matter demonstrations, paid her $400,000 bail — originally set at $1 million.
“Chrystul was being victimized and abused by someone who was not effectively stopped by the current systems,” said Sharlyn Grace, executive director of the Chicago Community Bond Fund. “That lack of protection from the systems we claim to keep us safe required that she act in self-defense to survive.”
Her trial date has not been set, the Post added. She is awaiting a decision from an appeals court that will determine if she qualifies for Wisconsin’s affirmative defense law, which would allow her to argue that her crime was a direct result of the trafficking she says she experienced.