Marissa Alexander, Sentenced 20 Years For Firing A Warning Shot, Given New Trial

A woman who got sentenced 20 years for firing a warning shot against her abusive ex will receive a new trial.

While the drama of the Trayvon Martin shooting and murder trial occurred, another Florida incident sparked an outcry for the unfortunate implications it presented.  A Florida woman was sentenced to a minimum 20 years in prison after firing a warning shot in order to scare away her abusive husband, part of arbitrary minimum sentencing laws.  No murder, not even a gunshot wound, just a warning shot.  To make matters worse, the judge ruled that "stand your ground" laws did not apply in this situation.  Now, the state court of appeals has ordered a new trial for Marissa Alexander, and attorneys are currently seeking to release her on bond.

The 1st District Court of Appeal of Florida ordered for a new trial for Marissa Alexander, who was sentenced 20 years on three counts of aggravated assault for firing the warning shot into a wall in a Jacksonville-area home.  The State Attorney's Office pressed for the case, claiming that Alexander was actually attacking her ex-husband Rico Gray, as well her two children, when she fired the shot, not the other way around.  Refusing a plea deal, Alexander was convicted on the assault charges, and Florida's minimum sentencing laws meant she got the absurd sentence in question.

While many people criticized the sentencing, the case was effectively overshadowed by the Trayvon Martin case, which happened in nearby Sanford.  Marissa Alexander attempted to have her case retried, but was denied by the court.  After the Trayvon Martin case died down, people began speaking up more about how Florida's stand-your-ground laws should have applied here, though it can be argued that since it was not Alexander's home, the laws would not apply.

In the ruling handed down by the 1st District Court of Appeals, the court ruled that the jury was not properly instructed on self defense laws, in particular on proving beyond a reasonable doubt that self-defense did not apply to Marissa Alexander's situation.  Given that Rico Gray had a criminal history of abusing Alexander, and that she put out a protective order against him prior to the warning shot, the case of self-defense is pretty strong here, regardless of the location of the shooting.  However, the State Attorney's office got a small victory: The court upheld blocking Alexander's "Stand Your Ground" claim.  No date has been determined for the new trial, and attorneys are currently working to release Alexander on bond, so she can go home.

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