Chrystul Kizer, a 19-year-old Black teen facing charges for murdering her sex trafficker, was released from a Wisconsin jail on Monday after two years awaiting trial.
Four activist organizations, Chicago Community Bond Fund, the Chrystul Kizer Defense Committee, Milwaukee Freedom Fund, and Survived & Punished, paid Kizer’s $400,000 bail, which was originally set at $1 million.
Once Kizer’s case ends, the bond money will be used to establish a fund housed by the National Bail Fund Network for criminalized survivors of domestic and sexual violence, the Chicago Community Bond Fund announced in a statement Monday. A percentage of the returned money will go to the Milwaukee Freedom Fund for its ongoing bail fund.
The Chicago Community Bond Fund was able to pay Kizer’s bond in part because it has been flooded with donations in recent weeks to support their efforts to free protestors jailed during demonstrations over police violence against Black Americans.
“The better world [that] protestors are struggling for is one that protects not punishes young, Black survivors like Chrystul,” said Mia Noel of the Milwaukee Freedom Fund in a press release. “Her case deepens the current calls for justice and the need to keep fighting to transform our society. While the systems designed to hurt Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and People of Color communities still exist, bail funds and mutual aid projects are a necessity.”
Kizer was arrested in June 2018 for the murder of Randall P. Volar, a 34-year-old white man. Prosecutors charged Kizer with arson and first-degree international homicide, an offense with a mandatory life sentence in Wisconsin.
Kizer met Volar when she was 16 after posting an ad on the website Backpage, which has since been taken down by the FBI. After contacting her on the site, Volar sexually abused Kizer for more than a year while giving her cash, gifts, and drugs. Volar also sold her to other men by posting ads on Backpage and confiscating the money that they paid her.
At the time that they met, Volar was already under investigation by the Kenosha Police Department for abusing nearly a dozen underage Black girls as young as 12 years old. Volar was arrested in February 2018 but was released without bail that same day.
He remained free until Kizer, then 17, came to his house and shot him twice in the head, lit his house on fire, and fled in his car. District Attorney Michael Graveley, whose office had video evidence of Volar’s abuse but failed to charge him, believes the crime was premeditated, and part of a plan to steal Volar’s car.
Kizer’s case has attracted international attention from celebrities and activists behind the #MeToo movement. As of this week, a fundraiser for Kizer has raised more than $63,000. Demands to #FreeChrystul have gone viral on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. A Change.org petition under the same name has received nearly 1 million signatures.
Kizer walked out of the Kenosha County Detention Facility carrying two trash bags full of artwork, books, letters, and encouraging words from supporters on Monday afternoon.
No trial date for Kizer has been set. Her public defenders are waiting for a decision from an appeals court that will determine if she can argue that her crime was a direct result of the abuse that she experienced under Wisconsin’s affirmative defense law.
Sources: The Hill 6/23/2020; Washington Post 6/22/2020; Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 6/22/2020