Marissa Alexander (c. 1981- ), mother of three from Jacksonville, Florida, was sentenced on May 11th 2012 to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot when her abusive husband threatened to kill her and came at her. No one was harmed – except her when he beat her earlier. She argued self-defence based on the Stand Your Ground law in Florida. The police, judge and jury did not buy it.
The prosecutor in the case was Angela Corey, who is also prosecuting Trayvon Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman.
Alexander’s husband, Rico Gray, had a past of beating and choking her. One time it got so bad it landed her in the hospital and he was arrested. After that she got a court order of protection – and a gun (with a permit and training).
On the night of August 1st 2010 Gray found out that she had sent pictures of their newborn daughter to her ex-husband. He went into a jealous rage, cornered her, started beating her. She got away and ran to her truck in the garage. But when she got there she had no keys. She tried to open the garage door but it was stuck. She had no phone so she could not call for help.
She got her gun from her truck and entered the house to find another way out or at least get her phone. But when she entered the kitchen there he was, her two stepsons in the next room. She was holding the gun down at her side.
He yelled, “Bitch, I will kill you!” and charged.
She held up the gun, turned away and fired a shot into the air, hitting the kitchen wall.
… a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm…
- Stand Your Ground law, Florida
The police arrested her.
Her Congresswoman, Corrine Brown, comparing it to Zimmerman:
How in Jacksonville you shoot in the air and no one gets hurt and you get 20 years and less than 50 miles down the road, less than 20 miles down the road, you shot and murdered somebody and you don’t even get arrested.
The judge and jury saw her as acting out of anger, not fear and self-defence. They say that coming back into the house showed she was not afraid.
It took the jury 12 minutes to find her guilty of three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Because she fired a gun, she gets 20 years under Florida’s strict gun laws.
Corey, the prosecutor:
I feel like when someone fires a loaded gun inside of a home with two children standing in the direction where the bullet was fired, we have to have tough laws that say you don’t do that. Justice, with the laws of the state of Florida, was served.
What was I supposed to do that day and the Stand Your Ground law, who is it for?