Marissa Alexander, the 33-year-old Jacksonville, Fla. mother of three who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot inside her home to protect herself from an allegedly abusive husband, won her appeal for a new trial on Sept. 26.
Alexander’s 20 year prison sentence resulted in a firestorm of controversy from the public and victim’s organizations, and “has been used by critics of Florida's ‘stand your ground’ law and mandatory minimum sentences to argue that the state's justice system is skewed against defendants who are black.”
The reason why Alexander was awarded a new trial is based upon a “fundamental error” committed by the court in her original trial, “because the trial judge handling her case did not properly instruct the jury regarding what is needed to prove self-defense.”
The jury for her original trial only deliberated for 12 minutes before convicting her.
But the court also made it clear in its ruling that the judge was right to block Alexander from using the state's "stand your ground" law as a way to defend her actions.
The “stand your ground" law states that victims can immediately retaliate in their own self-defense and do not have to flee for safety.
Although Alexander had no prior criminal record and no one was injured as a result of her warning shot, the original judge in the case “said he was bound by state law to sentence her to 20 years in prison after she was convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.”
Critics of Alexander’s sentence include the NAACP, domestic violence organizations, and Alexander’s congresswoman, “who said blacks more often are incarcerated for long periods because of overzealous prosecutors and judges bound by mandatory minimum sentences.”
Fla. State Attorney Angela Corey led the prosecution in the case against Alexander. Interestingly enough, Angela Corey was the same Fla. State’s Attorney that prosecuted George Zimmerman. And Corey stands behind her prosecution of Alexander.
Corey said she believes that Alexander aimed the gun at the man and his two sons, and that the bullet she fired could have ricocheted and hit any of them.
One of Alexander’s attorneys, Faith Gay, said that she and her legal team are “looking forward to taking the case back to trial."
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