Marissa Alexander, the Florida mother sentenced to 10-20 years in prison in 2010 because she fired a warning shot into a wall, will get a new trial.
A Florida jury took only 12 minutes to convict Alexander after testifying that she chose the lesser of two evils: a warning shot or kill the father of her child.
Alexander tried to use Florida’s Stand Your Ground defense but the jury didn’t believe her life was in danger. She was never arrested and was licensed to carry a weapon. Angela Corey, the same prosecutor hired to convict George Zimmerman who also invoked Stand Your Ground after killing Trayvon Martin in 2012, was her prosecutor. Zimmerman, as we know, was found not guilty earlier this summer. Corey is accused of throwing the case.
Critics of Stand Your Ground and Alexander supporters circulated a petition asking for Alexander’s release or retrail, citing improper jury instructions and racial discrimination.
“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-defense 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 appeals court judge ruled that the lower court judge improperly put a burden on Alexander to prove that the firing was in self-defense. “The defendant’s burden is only to raise a reasonable doubt concerning self-defense,” Daniel wrote. “The defendant does not have the burden to prove the victim guilty of the aggression defended against beyond a reasonable doubt.” He ordered a retrial. A separate proceeding would determine whether Alexander could be released on bail pending that trial.
Corey’s response to Alexander’s new trial: “Social media will be the destruction of this country.”