When it comes to creating true crime docuseries, Netflix continues to hold the top spot above all other networks. With a back catalogue including the global hits Making a Murderer and Tiger King, and newer projects such as The Innocence Files, Netflix has proven time and again that they are masters of the genre.
So whenever a new true crime series launches to the streaming service, it’s guaranteed to get people talking.
But for their latest series, Murder to Mercy: The Cyntoia Brown Story, people are talking for all the wrong reasons. Predominantly as it has come to fore that the subject of the docuseries – Cyntoia Brown, a former prisoner who was granted clemency and released from prison in 2019 – did not authorise the creation of the series.
Cyntoia Brown has come to address her story and her lack of involvement with Murder to Mercy. Here’s what she had to say about the Netflix series.
Netflix deals with The Cyntoia Brown Story
In 2004, when Cyntoia Brown was just 16 years old, she was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. Cyntoia shot the man in question, Johnny Allen, after he solicited her for sex.
Although the underage Cyntoia was under the thumb of a pimp at the time – controlled and manipulated in ways few can imagine – she was not regarded by the masses as a victim of abuse or sex trafficking. Her act of self-defence was regarded as one with malicious intent, robbery.
In 2017, the injustice of Cyntoia’s story circulated on social media thanks to the likes of Kim Kardashian and Rihanna.
After years of legal battles, Cyntoia was granted clemency in 2019 and her sentence commuted to 15 years. This meant that Cyntoia was released from prison in August 2019. Since, Cyntoia has gone on to document her own story with the novel ‘Free Cyntoia.
- THE LAST DANCE: Why does Michael Jordan have yellow eyes?
Was Cyntoia Brown paid for the documentary?
No. Murder for Mercy was created by Daniel H Birman without the participation of Cyntoia Brown.
Understandably, this has outraged many on the internet.
One Twitter user stated: “Before watching Netflix’s documentary about Cyntoia Brown please know they did NOT pay her and she is not getting money from them for HER story. It is UNAUTHORIZED and made by this man monetizing off her story”
In response, many commented that they would not watch the documentary in support of Cyntoia. One user commented on this thread with a theory on how the producer bypassed paying Cyntoia for her story. They said:
He prob took advantage of the Son of Sam state law, which wouldn’t allow her to collect royalties as a prisoner.She was released last year in Aug or sept, I believe in Tennessee.Some states have overturned it but TN isn’t one of them. I bet that’s where he found a loop hole smh
- CIRCUS OF BOOKS: Where is book store owner Barry Mason now?
The fact that filmmakers got a Netflix deal for an unauthorized documentary about Cyntoia Brown… but she’s alive, free & has no part in it. pic.twitter.com/MzPsgyqSSf
— Her ✨ (@AshYee_) April 29, 2020
What did Cyntoia say about the Netflix series?
Cyntoia took to social media to clear up her involvement with the series.
In a recent statement, Cyntoia wrote: “While I was still incarcerated, a producer who has old footage of me made a deal with Netflix for an UNAUTHORIZED documentary, set to be released soon.”
My husband and I were as surprised as everyone else when we first heard the news because we did not participate in any way. However, I am currently in the process of sharing my story, in the right way, in full detail, and in a way that depicts and respects the woman I am today. While I pray that this film highlights things wrong in our justice system, I had nothing to do with this documentary.
WATCH MURDER TO MERCY: THE CYNTOIA BROWN STORY ON NETFLIX NOW