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