Marissa Alexander, a jailed Florida woman who argued the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law as defense after firing a shot at her abusive husband, will now receive a new trial. An appeals court judge has decided to grant Alexander a new trial based on findings that the jury instructions on what stands as self-defense may have been incorrectly given.
MSNBC reported on the appeals court retrial ruling earlier today (Sept. 26), citing the actual court opinion from Judge James H. Daniel. Alexander’s case has gained much traction after the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the killing of Trayvon Martin in July.
Marissa Alexander, the African-American woman who was sentenced to 20 years for discharging a firearm in Florida despite pleading Stand Your Ground against her husband,will get a new trial. Alexander, 32, said she fired a bullet at the ceiling because she was afraid of her husband. No one was injured. It took 12 minutes for the jury to convict her.
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.
Before the fateful August 2010 night that landed her in jail, Alexander’s husband, Rico Gray had been previously arrested for domestic violence against his wife. After delivering Gray’s child just nine days prior, Alexander claims Gray attacked her once more after discovering text messages between she and her ex-husband.
Alexander said she tried to flee the scene and was blocked by her husband, who then charged at her after he allegedly threatened to kill her. Firing a warning shot into the wall while reportedly never aiming the gun at Gray and owning a legal gun permit, Alexander was still hit with a mandatory 20-year sentence in early 2012. In an odd twist of fate, the prosecutor in that case was Angela Corey, who also held the same role in the Zimmerman trial.
Alexander may be released on bail in a separate hearing ahead of the retrial.