A Florida appeals court is ordering a new trial for a woman sentenced to 20 years to prison after she fired a warning shot at the ceiling during a dispute with her husband.
Marissa Alexander, 32, said she fired a bullet at the ceiling because she was afraid of her husband. No one was injured but unlike George Zimmerman who actually took a life, the jury took only 12 minutes of deliberation to convict her. Did the colour of Marissa’s skin have anything to do with the verdict? You decide.
The 1st District Court of Appeal ruled that a judge did not properly instruct the jury handling Marissa’s case.
“We reject her contention that the trial court erred in declining to grant her immunity from prosecution under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law,” wrote Judge James H. Daniel, “but we remand for a new trial because the jury instructions on self-defence were erroneous.”
Alexander, who had given birth the week before, testified that after an altercation regarding texts from her ex-husband, she locked herself in the bathroom. Her husband Rico Gray broke through the door, grabbed her by the neck, and shoved her into the door. She ran to the garage, found she couldn’t get the door open, and returned with a gun. When Gray saw the gun, he said, “Bitch, I’ll kill you.” Alexander testified that firing the gun into the air as a warning shot was “the lesser of two evils.”
The jury rejected her self-defence argument, and instead Alexander was sentenced under the “10-20-Life” law, which carries a series of mandatory minimum sentences related to gun crimes.