LAS VEGAS (KLAS)– A woman convicted of murder is asking for her conviction to be thrown out. Alisha Burns has filed an appeal with the Nevada Supreme Court.  Burns claims she committed the murder while she was a sex trafficking victim.

In an interview with the 8 News Now I-Team, Burns, now 35 years old, said she was adopted as a baby but then given up by her adoptive parents when she was 11 years old.  She said she was placed in 36 different foster homes by the time she was 15 years old.  That’s when she met 32-year-old Steven Kaczmarek.

“It was easy for him to convince me he was the only person that loved me and cared about me, and he asked me to run away with him from my foster home and so I did,” Burns said.

They traveled from Ohio to Nevada after Kaczmarek made promises, including marriage, according to Burns.  She told the 8 News Now I-Team that this is when the sex trafficking began.  “I was completely, completely brainwashed,” Burns said.

On September 25, 2002, Burns met Pedro Villareal in downtown Las Vegas.  According to police, Burns and Kaczmarek planned to rob Villareal.  They went to his apartment where Kaczmarek strangled Villareal and tied his wrists and ankles and Burns stomped on his neck, an arrest report states.  Police said Kaczmarek put Villareal in a tub, stuffed a sock in his mouth, and put a pillowcase on his head.  A maintenance person found his body two days later.

“I wish things were different and it is absolutely my mission to make something good come from this,” Burns told the I-Team. 

Burns and Kaczmarek were convicted of murder.  Kaczmarek is serving a life sentence.  Burns served 16 years in prison.  Attorney Tony Abbatangelo is representing Burns.  Robert Rose is Abbatangelo’s clerk.  “The goal is to win the appeal and have Alisha be kind of a messenger to people and to help pull people out,” Rose said.

Burns is now six months pregnant and active with Hope for Prisoners which helps convicted felons get back on their feet. 

“I’d like to work with the courts to help these girls and women who are being trafficked and to get them help, get them treatment, teach them life skills so that they don’t feel stuck,” Burns said.  She told the I-Team that the label as a convicted felon is preventing her from reaching some goals.

Now that there is more public knowledge about sex trafficking and stronger laws against it, Burns said she has hope her conviction could be overturned.

“Today, a 32-year-old man would never be called a 15-year-old’s boyfriend.  That’s absurd.  Times are different,” Burns said. 

The I-Team reached out to the Clark County District Attorney’s office and did not receive a response in time for the deadline.