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September 26, 2013

New trial granted for defendant subject to long mandatory sentence in Florida "warning shot" case

As reported in this news report, headlined "Marissa Alexander will get a new trial," today there was a notable development in a notable Florida criminal case that garnered some additional attention in the wake of the George Zimmerman prosecution. Here are the basics:

Marissa Alexander, the African-American woman who was sentenced to 20 years for discharging a firearm in Florida despite pleading Stand Your Ground against her husband, will get a new trial. Alexander, 32, said she fired a bullet at the ceiling because she was afraid of her husband. No one was injured. It took 12 minutes for the jury to convict her.

“We reject her contention that the trial court erred in declining to grant her immunity from prosecution under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law,” wrote Judge James H. Daniel, “but we remand for a new trial because the jury instructions on self-defense were erroneous.”

Alexander, who had given birth the week before, testified that after an altercation regarding texts from her ex-husband, she locked herself in the bathroom. Her husband Rico Gray broke through the door, grabbed her by the neck, and shoved her into the door. She ran to the garage, found she couldn’t get the door open, and returned with a gun. When Gray saw the gun, he said, “Bitch, I’ll kill you.” Alexander testified that firing the gun into the air as a warning shot was “the lesser of two evils.”

The jury rejected her self-defense argument, and instead Alexander was sentenced under the “10-20-Life” law, which carries a series of mandatory minimum sentences related to gun crimes. The prosecutor in her case was Angela Corey, who also prosecuted George Zimmerman who was acquitted in the death of Trayvon Martin....

The appeals court judge ruled that the lower court judge improperly put a burden on Alexander to prove that the firing was in self-defense. “The defendant’s burden is only to raise a reasonable doubt concerning self-defense,” Daniel wrote. “The defendant does not have the burden to prove the victim guilty of the aggression defended against beyond a reasonable doubt.” He ordered a retrial. A separate proceeding would determine whether Alexander could be released on bail pending that trial.

The relatively short opinions in this case (a majority opinion and a concurrence) can be accessed at this link.

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September 26, 2013 at 12:15 PM | Permalink


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This should of been a slam dunk....Her husband should have tossed in the clinker and she
should of been let go...All she was doing was protecting herself.

Lets see how would federal guidelines put it...Potential for serious harm, as in Career Offender and ACCA.

The prosecuter needs to be disbarred and so should the Judge..

Posted by: MidWest Guy | Sep 26, 2013 4:04:10 PM

Take a second and read the concurrence describing the trial court's findings in rejecting her Stand Your Ground defense.

Posted by: Gray proctor | Sep 26, 2013 10:11:58 PM

Hell Gray she was nicer than i would be. Get me by the throat! then give me any shot to kill your ass and your gonna be DEAD! I wouldn't care if you were my son, wife daugher, the president or the local cop!!

Posted by: rodsmith | Sep 26, 2013 11:58:44 PM

None of the "stand your ground" advocates have stood up for her and of course the movement has lost considerable ground. The NRA has to get off its sorry arse and go lobby that FL legislature to strengthen the law. Perhaps a few shots at the prosecutor and judge in this case--verbally across the bow of course. Or off course. What an outrageous lynching. Where are all the Trayvon bellyachers when we really need them?

Posted by: Liberty1st | Sep 27, 2013 9:29:39 AM

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