America’s new hot button trial of the year is one by many eyes looks strangely familiar. A Florida woman has been granted a retrial after she was convicted last year in Jacksonville, Florida on three counts of aggravated assault for firing a gun to scare off her “threatening” husband.
Marissa Alexander has seen a lot of support from family and friends, but more specifically the public after she claimed Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, but had it rejected and wound up getting sentence for a mandatory 20 year sentence.
At the center of this case we find Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, the same law in which George Zimmerman used in his defense to get acquitted of the murder charge he faced in the death of Trayvon Martin in the same state. But for many people, still feeling raw about the Zimmerman verdict, who want to see justice avenged in this case, don’t know is that the two cases are vastly different, which is exactly why under the same Florida courts we saw two different results.
This story only gained national exposure after Zimmerman was arrested, and a group of family and friends wanted desperately to point out the same defense posture that was deemed valid for Zimmerman, but invalid for Alexander. Sure, just hearing the headline its easy for anyone to be outraged. “Woman who claimed Stand Your Ground after firing a warning shot at her abusive husband sentenced to 20 years.” But if you found that foul, then you yourself would be guilty of not looking at the facts.
Marissa Alexander said she was threatened by her husband after the two got into a confrontation over text messages. She then retrieved a gun and fired a warning shot. But after reading court documents and police reports, one can really find out what really happened.
Alexander claimed that her husband Rico Gray prevented her from leaving a bathroom in which she locked herself into. Eventually, Alexander not only made it out the bathroom, past Gray, but also out of the house. She then went into the garage to leave, but decided to get a gun. She said the garage door was broken, but there was no evidence to prove that. She instead chose to go back into (and not exit the house through another door, mind you) and confront her husband. There goes her Stand Your Ground argument, by the way. So now feeling re-threatened, she fired a “warning” shot, not in the air or ground, but toward his direction, even with her kids in the house nearby. One child who even testified in court that he was in fear of his life.
Oh yeah and speaking of domestic abuse, only one of the two of them have a record of arrest of spousal abuse. And I’ll give you a hint, it’s not the guy. Yes, after being found battered and bloodied, Rico Gray had to call the police on his wife a second time (second, as in this was after the shooting incident) after she found her way back at his house against court orders preventing contact between the two.
So with all of this, can one really be surprised it took a jury 12 minutes to convict her of the assault charges? While anyone can agree that the 20 year sentence may be a bit excessive, but under state law its mandatory, considering there’s a deadly weapon involved. The retrial that was granted wasn’t because of some new evidence, or because there was reasonable doubt. It was because of an error in jury instructions. Kudos to her attorney for finding that. It may work out in her favor with a new jury. But keep in mind, she still cannot use Stand Your Ground, so maybe not.
Not for nothin, but this is not the poster trial of racial inequality. Nor is it your excuse to bash the state of Florida for a case where you were not involved in as a defendant, prosecutor, defense attorney, juror, or judge. This was just a poor decision made, seemingly out of anger and not fear.