Following on the heels of the headline-making George Zimmerman trial, the trial against Florida mother Marissa Alexander gained national attention and controversy.
According to a recent news report, “Marissa Alexander was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot in an effort to scare off her allegedly abusive husband.”
Alexander maintained her innocence throughout, refusing to accept a plea deal of three years in prison and taking her chances in front of a jury.
After a short time in deliberation, just twelve minutes, a jury convicted Alexander of aggravated assault. The minimum sentence for this type of charge, in which a firearm was involved, is twenty years under Florida law.
Her trial and subsequent conviction made headlines as people throughout the nation wondered why the thirty-one-year-old mother of three would be convicted, when no harm was committed and when George Zimmerman was not convicted for the killing of Trayvon Martin.
George Zimmerman did not ask for immunity under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, with his attorneys only arguing self-defense. Alexander, in contrast, claimed a “Stand Your Ground” defense, which was denied by the judge. She said that her husband, Rico Gray, tried to strangle her and that she tried to flee to her car in the garage. When she realized she forgot her keys, she retrieved her weapon. Believing he was going to kill her, she fired a shot into the wall. Gray’s two children were present, but no one was injured.
Gray first backed up Alexander’s story, stating in a deposition that he “probably would have put [his] hand on her.” In a hearing to dismiss her case, however, he said that he lied to protect her.
Now, Alexander will get a new trial based on the decision of a Florida court of appeals. The court’s opinion did not find that she should have received immunity under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law; however, it did state that she should receive a new trial “because the jury instructions on self-defense were erroneous.”
As the new trial unfolds, it will likely capture the attention of the nation once again. We will have to wait to see whether or not Alexander’s conviction is upheld.
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