Alexis Martin was sex trafficked at age 14 by her pimp, Angelo Kerney. According to Alexis, Kerney forced her into sexual acts, exotic dancing, and selling drugs for him. Kerney repeatedly raped Alexis, making her feel as though the only value she had was her body and that nobody would ever love her. As an impressionable young teen with low self-esteem who had already had a horrendously abusive childhood, Alexis believed her sex trafficker.
When Alexis was a child, she was raped and sexually molested. Her parents and stepfather were not present in her life most of the time, and when they were, they were often using drugs. Her mother, who should have been a wonderful role model for her children, lost custody of her children and was imprisoned for drug trafficking. By eight years old, Alexis had depression, and by 12 years old, she was suicidal. Alexis felt as though she needed an adult present in her life to take care of her, and unfortunately, Kerney was all she had.
How Did a Sex Trafficking Victim End Up in Prison?
When Alexis was 15 years old, she decided to retaliate against Kerney to escape the horrors of sex trafficking. She collaborated with six other adults, two of whom were Travaski Jackson and Deshaun Spear, to rob Kerney’s home in Akron, Ohio on November 7, 2013. While Alexis distracted Kerney’s brother (by having sex with him in another room), Jackson and Spear robbed and shot Kerney to death.
Even though Alexis did not actually kill Kerney, she was convicted of first-degree murder and robbery charges.
Even though Alexis did not actually kill Kerney, she was convicted of first-degree murder and robbery charges, allegedly masterminding the murder. Alexis was sentenced to 21 years to life in prison at the Ohio Reformatory for Women and began serving her sentence at the age of 17.
Alexis Should Not Have Been Tried as an Adult
Although Alexis was only 15 years old when these crimes took place, she was tried as an adult. According to Ohio’s Safe Harbor Law, Alexis should have been able to enroll in health and trauma education rather than be sent to prison. If Alexis had successfully completed the educational program, it could have led to dropped criminal charges. Alexis’ attorney, Sasha Naiman, said that she “should have received services. She was a baby. She was 15 years old, and every single day that Alexis is incarcerated is a mistake.”
Kim Kardashian West’s Influence
Kim Kardashian West recently produced a criminal justice reform TV show on Oxygen called The Justice Project that featured Alexis Martin. The two-hour documentary that premiered on April 5, 2020 shined a light on Alexis and her unfair trial and punishment, bringing national attention to important prison reforms the KUWTK star feels very strongly about. Kardashian West became a strong advocate for Alexis, giving her a lot of hope and encouragement that justice would one day be served.
Whether it was a coincidence or not, just 12 days after The Justice Project aired, Ohio’s governor, Mike DeWine, announced that Alexis, now 22 years old, would be released from prison with reduced punishment. The governor said that Alexis, along with six other inmates, were being granted commutations partially in order to reduce the population in prisons to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
What Will Happen to Alexis Now?
Alexis will now be placed in a group home, where she will be under supervision for an extensive period of time. Alexis will also be getting therapeutic treatment specifically designed for sex trafficking survivors. Alexis’ lawyer, Jennifer Kinsey, said, “We’re overjoyed that she’s free and she’s getting a second chance to move forward with her life.” Alexis is absolutely thrilled as well. After taking her first few steps of freedom on April 17, 2020, Alexis celebrated by doing a cartwheel!
While in prison, she completed high school and earned her GED. She also became a certified HVAC technician and dog trainer.
During her time in prison, Alexis already began making plans to turn her life around. While in prison, she completed high school and earned her GED. She also became a certified HVAC technician and dog trainer, which she will hopefully begin to use now that she is out of prison. Alexis also started a supportive group for human trafficking survivors.
Although Alexis pleaded guilty to murder and robbery — and in no way am I condoning such crimes — I can understand why she did it. Alexis lived through an extremely rough and traumatic childhood, and at 15 years old, she made some very bad decisions. At the time though, she didn’t have the support to help her break free from the child sex trafficking life she tragically found herself in. In her young teenage mind, this was her only way out. And now, whether it was Kim Kardashian West’s documentary, the Coronavirus pandemic, or something else, I am happy to hear that Alexis is free and getting a second chance at a better life.