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20 Years for Firing a Warning Shot in Florida's Self Defense Law

Updated on July 17, 2013
In 2010
In 2010
Today
Today

It happened long before Trayvon Martin and Zimmerman in 2010. It has injustice written all over it and is now on appeal.

Marissa Alexander is a mother of three, age 32, black. She has been dealing with her ex for sometime now and he had two restraining orders filed against him for violence. Yet, one day in 2010, the couple were face to face at her home in Jacksonville, Florida. Like in many nasty divorces involving kids, the visit turned very emotional and he began to advance on Marissa. Scared, she fled and he pursued her into the garage. She managed to obtain the gun out of the car and with him blocking any escape, she fired a warning shot into a nearby wall. He stopped his pursuit and things calmed down. The shot went through the wall into a room where two of her kids were, none were hit. She did not know they were there.

The state of Florida, like in the Trayvon case, charged her with a crime. She claimed self defense in Florida's stand your own ground. Yet, the judge sided with the state attorney, saying it was not self defense because there were differing accounts as to facts. One, was that Marissa intentionally raised the gun and fired a warning shot when her ex was about to leave. However, her account was entirely alien to that account and because a gun was used and could have endangered a life, there was a mandatory sentence. If the firearm is discharged, the convicted will receive a 20-year minimum sentence, and if shots fired from the gun injure or kill anyone, the minimum sentence is 25-years to life. That is Florida's crazy law.

At the time, Marissa felt her life was in danger. Clearly, the ex had a propensity to violence, in fact, he told the press that had she not had the gun, he would have assaulted her as he did in the past. He made it quite clear. Marissa could have been killed. Even the person responsible for the Florida law has said that what happened to Marissa was not intended to happen. It should be added that gun Marissa used was legal.

The jury in this case took only 12 minutes to reach a guilty with enhancements verdict. The ex is now laughing about it. We all know that a in domestic situations, a TRO against a person prone to violence, is useless. Police seldom actually do much about violations until it is too late.

However, Marissa could have agreed to a plea deal with the DA for three years, instead of 20, that the jury gave her!

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    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR

      perrya 

      5 years ago

      I agree with all of you. Hopefully she will be released on appeal.

    • swordsbane profile image

      William Grant 

      5 years ago from Wisconsin

      Firing a warning shot is "reckless"? Really? If she was waving the gun around, or if she fired into the air, possibly. She fired into a wall intentionally. People who know how to handle a gun fire into something that will stop the bullet without bouncing it so that innocent people don't get hurt. Simply firing a gun is not reckless, no matter what the law says. She fired the warning shot to stop the man who was coming after her. If she was panicked or reckless, she would have fired wildly or shot the man. She had enough control and forethought NOT to do that, although if he had kept coming, and her next shot had been into HIM, then I wouldn't be surprised. It looks like she was being carefully NOT reckless. The fact that the bullet went through the wall and into a room with other people in it (something she did not know) was an accident. Had she known, she probably would have used a different wall, but he wasn't going to give her time to find out.

    • someonewhoknows profile image

      someonewhoknows 

      5 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

      Even though I agree that this law is flawed and gives the judge little or no room when it comes to sentencing.The woman in question here was being reckless with respect to the firing the gun where she did. Twenty years is crazy though.

    • swordsbane profile image

      William Grant 

      5 years ago from Wisconsin

      Restraining orders are useless. Completely useless. Not only are they usually not prosecuted because the "defense" can almost always form an "extenuating circumstance" argument, but once again it is relying on the law to protect you. The law... the police, the courts, the prison system. ONLY.. only clean up the mess. They do not PROTECT anyone. YOU do... or you don't.

      The justice system will be completely out of whack until our legislators (and the police chiefs who set policy) realize and accept this and allow us to protect ourselves. Except under unusual circumstances (like you live next door to the police station) whatever crime is being committed against you will be over by the time the police show up, unless YOU do something to slow it down or stop it. End of friggen story. I will happily break the law to keep someone from killing me. I'd rather be in prison than dead. The judge in this case doesn't seem to understand this concept. The jury apparently didn't understand this concept, and the lawmakers who came up with Florida's crazy laws certainly doesn't.

      I NEVER want to live in Florida. Even their Stand Your Ground law, who's concept I agree with, is riddled with flaws and loopholes that technically allow criminal behavior, it's ridiculous.

    • profile image

      Ralph 

      5 years ago

      Al is on MSNBC, the left side.

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR

      perrya 

      5 years ago

      Yeah, I agree with that ralph. i wish Fox would remove Al. So biased.

    • profile image

      Ralph 

      5 years ago

      @pstraubie48

      "Why has she not gotten the attention that the most recent case has??? Food for thought."

      Why? Because it was a black on black "crime" There wasn't the outrage from the black community and the allegations of racism associated with the Zimmerman trial. The race baiters like Al Sharpton and Ben Crump were not out there demanding justice in order to line their pockets. Maybe if these guys really wanted to help black people they could have gotten this woman a top notch defense team.

      Maybe someone should ask Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson why they didn't get involved to help this black woman. I already know the real answer, but I would sure like to hear what comes out of their mouths. Why do some in the black community continually let themselves be exploited by these clowns?

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR

      perrya 

      5 years ago

      That is a good question and just goes to show how the media in general determines coverage. I had never heard of this and the case is up for appeal. This case is much more clear cut than the Martin case. Thus, the injustice is even more greater!

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      5 years ago from sunny Florida

      One of the things that is MOST disturbing about this is that restraining orders clearly do not deter anyone who is intent on causing bodily injury to another. That is so incredibly scary. My daughter, grandson, and I were stalked all over the US and we had been to the police time and time again. They told us to MOVE. And we did time and time again. It did not stop until HE want to jail for murdering someone else.

      I do not know all of the particulars of this case but I do know that many who are in jail should NOT be and some who are NOT should be.

      This case presents a number of complex issues. of them gun use. If someone has a gun legally, it is a means to protect that person. Are you ever sure when you are faced with a situation such as Marissa, that YOU will not wind up being the victim?? This is a sobering story because it sounds like a 'he said, she said' scenario...and Marissa lost.

      Why has she not gotten the attention that the most recent case has??? Food for thought.

      Angels are on the way to you and to Marissa. ps

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