The Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling on Wednesday, allowing Chrystul Kizer to argue self-defense to justify killing the man she claims sexually abused her when she was a minor.
Chrystul Kizer, 22, is awaiting trial for first-degree intentional homicide and other felony charges in the death of Randall Volar III. Prosecutors say that Kizer shot and killed Volar in 2018, when she was 17, before setting his house on fire.
Kizer stated in a 2019 interview that she met Volar when she was 16 and that he sexually abused her multiple times. She said she had no recollection of reaching for a gun or starting a fire.
“I didn’t intentionally try to do this,” she explained.
Kizer has attempted to use a legal defense under Wisconsin law that permits victims of human trafficking to have, “an affirmative defense for any offense committed as a direct result” of being trafficked.
An appeals court allowed Kizer to continue with the defense at trial, a decision which the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld 4-3 on Wednesday. According to the high court’s decision, Chrystul Kizer’s defense is available “regardless of whether anyone is charged with or convicted of trafficking,” and the facts of the case will be determined at trial.
The court also considered whether Chrystul Kizer’s crime was a “direct result” of being trafficked and determined that the law governing the matter is too vague and lacks a definition of the phrase.
“Unlike many crimes, which occur at discrete points in time, human trafficking can trap victims in a cycle of seemingly inescapable abuse that can continue for months or even years,” the court ruling stated.
It went on to say that because of that cycle, a crime “that is unforeseeable or that does not occur immediately after a trafficking offense is committed can be a direct result of the trafficking offense, so long as there is still the necessary logical connection between the offense and the trafficking.”
Chrystul Kizer stated she met Volar, then 34, on Backpage, a now-defunct sex ads website, and that he sold her to men for sex.
Kizer told the Washington Post that she went to Volar’s house on the night of the fire after an argument with her boyfriend at the time. She was carrying a gun in her purse.
Chrystul Kizer said in her account that Volar gave her a drug that night and they began to watch a movie. Volar began to touch her, and when she refused to have sex with him, they fought.
“I just thought that I didn’t want to do that stuff anymore because I was trying to change,” she explained. He pinned her to the ground, and she said her actions were in self-defense.
According to The Washington Post, Chrystul Kizer initially told police that she saw another woman shoot Volar and that she didn’t know who he was. She claimed she lied because she was afraid.
Volar was arrested in 2018 on charges of child enticement, using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime, and second-degree sexual assault of a child, according to The Washington Post, but he was released the same day.
At the time of Volar’s death, the Kenosha County district attorney’s office confirmed it was working on a case against him.
After teenager Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted last year, Kizer’s case received renewed attention. Rittenhouse was charged with killing two people and injuring a third during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, following the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
Rittenhouse, then 17, claimed he was afraid for his life at the time of the shooting. He was found not guilty by a jury.