Criminal Justice

Woman Gets 20 Years for Claimed Warning Shot; Judge Rejected Stand-Your-Ground Immunity

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The latest controversy over Florida’s stand-your-ground law concerns a defendant who argued without success that the defense should bar her prosecution.

Jurors deliberated only 12 minutes before convicting Marissa Alexander of Jacksonville, Fla., who says she fired a warning shot in an attempt to scare off her abusive husband, report the Los Angeles Times, the Associated Press and the Florida Times-Union. She was convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and sentenced earlier this month to 20 years in prison.

A judge had refused to bar the prosecution based on Alexander’s claim she had immunity because of the state’s stand-your-ground law.

The case stems from an August 2010 incident. Alexander had gone to her former home to retrieve her belongings, and encountered her estranged husband there, Time magazine reports. He went into a rage after discovering texts to another man, she says, and threatened her. She went out to her truck, was unable to open the locked garage door, and got her gun from the vehicle, according to her account. She went back inside and fired. The bullet hit the wall.

Alexander had rejected a plea bargain that called for a three-year sentence. Judge James Daniel said he was required to impose the stiff sentence under a state law requiring a 20-year prison term for anyone who fires a gun in the commission of certain felonies.

U.S. Rep. Corinne Brown, D-Jacksonville, supported Alexander. After the sentencing, Brown said the justice system had sent this message: “If women who are victims of domestic violence try to protect themselves, the stand-your-ground law will not apply to them.”

Related coverage:

Florida Times-Union: “Marissa Alexander’s husband says it was her violent nature that led to shooting”

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