Name: Johnny Michael Allen
Murderer: Cyntoia Brown, 16
Crime location: Nashville, Tennessee
Crime date: August 7, 2004
Many visitors to our website will have heard of Johnny Allen and his killer Cyntoia Brown. This is because in the last couple of years there has been a widespread effort, not only to free Brown from prison, but to minimize her personal responsibility. Both efforts were successful. Brown, who had initially been sentenced to life with parole eligibility in 51 years, was released in August 2019 after having her sentence commuted by the governor of Tennessee. This, we do not oppose, as we take no positions on the sentences specific offenders should get. We also will say that we are aware of the circumstances Brown faced–that she was a 16-year-old prostitute being controlled and trafficked by a violent pimp when she murdered Allen. What we do not support or understand is the continued denial of facts regarding this case. Yes, Brown’s background was tragic. But this did not make her less aware of the nature of the crime she committed against Johnny. Nor did it make her unable to avoid murdering him. Just because you are being trafficked does not mean you get to murder a man who poses no danger as he sleeps. Most human trafficking victims do not commit murder.
Now, some will say that the 15 years Brown spent incarcerated is enough. Others will say that she should have been eligible for parole after a longer time incarcerated. And others will say that she should never have become eligible for release. But we aren’t here to discuss that. We can spend days talking about the appropriate punishment for murderers like her. But here, NOVJM’s focus is on remembering the innocent victim and telling the truth about his murder. Because in the end, the facts are the same, and the impact of the crime on Johnny and his family and friends is the same. And all that we can ask is that Johnny be treated with respect and that people learn the facts of the case and not ignore them or lie.
Johnny, a real estate agent, was well known in his community. He was a youth minister at Lakewood Church of Christ and he also occasionally taught Sunday school. He also started a homeless ministry at his church.
Summary of the crime
Johnny took Brown to his home on August 6, 2004. Later, as he lay asleep in bed, Brown shot him in the head and murdered him. The motive was robbery and entertainment.
On the night of August 6, 2004, Johnny picked Brown up and took her to his home. Later, in the early morning hours of August 7, Brown shot Johnny in the head as he slept with a .40-caliber handgun. She then stole $172 from Johnny’s wallet and two of his firearms and left in Johnny’s truck. She later admitted to several people that the murder was motivated by robbery and the desire to “just to see how it felt to kill somebody.” The evidence is discussed in detail here.
Later, a campaign to release Brown began. It was based on the lie that Brown shot Johnny in self-defense. This lie is fully debunked on this page.
Advocates of Brown have said many horrible things about her victim, that he was a sex trafficker and rapist. But he was none of those things. The most he did, was pick up a 16-year-old prostitute that he did not know was underage (note that 16 is the age of consent in most states). He did not buy Brown from her pimp. He did not kidnap her or rape her. Johnny’s friends and family believe he was only interested in helping her and not in sleeping with her. Brown claimed self-defense at trial. But this was not a self-defense case. Allen posed no danger to Brown. He was asleep. The jury did not buy Brown’s self-defense claim, as the evidence against her is overwhelming. She was convicted and sentenced to 51 years to life. She was later released in 2019 after her sentence was commuted. Johnny’s friends and family spoke out against TN Governor Haslam’s decision: “Our hearts are broken today as the Governor has decided to grant Johnny’s murderer clemency. The activist mob with their repetition of Cyntoia’s lies and slander managed to prevail against justice.”
Since being released, Brown has become an activist. She has also become, for lack of a better word, a celebrity, a cause celebre. She wrote a memoir which does not give the whole truth. She gives speeches. She does book signings. She gives interviews. She has testified in favor of a bill that would free other teen killers. She even is getting a scripted series on her life. She has basically been rewarded for murdering a man and lying about it. Clearly, Brown is continuing to lie about the murder to profit and keep her new cause celebre status. NOVJM does not ask her to stop giving speeches, interviews, etc. just that she be honest. We also ask that the public educate themselves about this case. It is very upsetting to see advocates of juvenile murderers lie and ignore victims. While Brown is a household name, how many people know Johnny Allen’s name? Many people believe Brown’s lies but how many know the truth? And what kind of a message does her celebrity status and profiting send to other convicted murderers? It shows them that you can commit premeditated murder, lie about it, and if you are good at manipulating, get released from prison and profit. Rewarding Brown also sends the message that you can be held less responsible based on your history of abuse even when your victim did not harm you and when your history did not make you unable to understand the nature of the crime.
NOVJM is also wondering, how lucrative is Brown’s new position as a cause celebre? How much money has she made from her book? How much does she charge to give a speech? Who is getting her book proceeds? Has she committed any resources to the victim’s family since she has profited off of killing Johnny and lying about it? Does Tennessee law allow for the victims to get restitution?
Brown’s circumstances were terrible. But they do not give her a right to murder a man, lie about it, and profit off of those lies. NOVJM does not ask that Brown stop selling her book, doing interviews, etc. We just want honesty. And we want the public to be honest and aware as well.
Brown as a celebrity