Marissa Alexander’s Sentence Could Triple In Second Trial
Marissa Alexander, who had been previously sentenced to 20 years of prison for firing a warning shot to scare off her husband, may face a tripled jail term if she is convicted again.
Although Alexander was convicted to three separate 20-year sentences in her first trial by Circuit Judge James Daniel, the judge ordered the sentences to be conducted concurrently. However, his decision was thrown out after the 1st District Court of Appeal ruled that Daniel had mistakenly shifted the burden to Alexander to prove that she had been acting in self-defense. The Office of State Attorney Angela Corey and state prosecutors, who are now looking to retry Alexander, say they will be seeking that the sentences be served consecutively.
Alexander’s case received national attention when she was denied immunity under Florida’s stand-your-ground law, which states that
“[Someone] who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”
During her first trial, Alexander claimed she acted out of fear for her life during the argument with her husband, Rico Gray Sr., who admitted that if his children had not been present, he would have “put [his] hand on her.” Alexander’s warning shot ended up in the ceiling. No one was injured.
This is the second time Florida’s stand-your-ground law has come into national interest.
The first time was with George Zimmerman’s trial in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in 2012. Although Zimmerman did not explicitly invoke stand-your-ground and instead decided to be tried as a self-defense case, the law still loomed over the trial. The initial call to arrest Zimmerman was dismissed under stand-your-ground. Stand-your-ground’s definition was mentioned almost word for word in the jury instructions. One of the jurors even mistakenly referred to the stand-your-ground law as a reason for acquittal. It is impossible to say that stand-your-ground is definitively the reason Zimmerman was acquitted, but there is no doubt it played an essential role in Zimmerman’s trial–even though the details of the night of the shooting were murky at best.
The upsurgence of criticism for Alexander’s conviction led to the creation of a group called Free Marissa Now.
Helen Gilbert, a spokeswoman for the group, called Corey seeking a 60-year sentence an “incredibly abusive and outrageous action.”
“It’s unimaginable that a woman acting in self-defense, who injured no one, can be given what amounts to a life sentence. This must send chills down the spine of every woman and everyone who cares about women and every woman in an abusive relationship.”
Alexander’s trial is set to begin July 28.