Florida Mom Received Twenty-Year Sentence For Firing Warning Shots To Abusive Husband

firing warning shotsFrom one year ago, a case that has been compared and contrasted with George Zimmerman’s in regards to notions of “self defense” and “Stand Your Ground” in the Florida legal system. Reported by CBS News:

A Florida woman who fired warning shots against her allegedly abusive husband has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Marissa Alexander of Jacksonville had said the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law should apply to her because she was defending herself against her allegedly abusive husband when she fired warning shots inside her home in August 2010. She told police it was to escape a brutal beating by her husband, against whom she had already taken out a protective order.

Under Florida’s mandatory minimum sentencing requirements Alexander couldn’t receive a lesser sentence, even though she has never been in trouble with the law before.

According to a sworn deposition, Marissa Alexander’s husband, Rico Gray, said that he and Alexander began fighting after he found text messages to Alexander’s first husband on her phone. The two were already estranged. Gray began calling her names, saying “If I can’t have you, nobody going to have you,” and blocking her from exiting the bathroom.

Alexander pushed past Gray and went into the garage where she got her gun from her car’s glove compartment. Gray told prosecutors in the deposition that Alexander came back into the house holding the weapon and told him to leave. He refused, and what happened next is somewhat unclear. In his deposition, Gray said “she shot in the air one time,” prompting him and the children to run out the front door. But when Gray called 911 the day of the incident, he said “she aimed the gun at us and she shot.”

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  • emperorreagan

    Yeah, you don’t leave and come back with a gun to escape a brutal beating. If you’re able to leave and get something out of the car, you’ve already escaped the beating.

    • Bruteloop

      Too right. So she gets 20 and Zimmerman walks.

    • cat

      Wrong! She ran to the garage but didn’t have her keys. She tried to get out of the garage but it was stuck so she fired a warning shot. She should have shot him and got off.

      • emperorreagan

        The judge was unconvinced and denied stand your ground immunity because she didn’t leave the house at the first opportunity and instead went to the garage and retrieved her gun. The judge also noted the garage door worked when she parked there the night before and no one presented evidence that it was not working.

        Would she have been granted stand your ground immunity telling the same version of events but killing him instead of firing a warning shot? Maybe, maybe not. I’d bet no.

    • Guest

      the kids were still in the house?

  • Apathesis

    FAIL.

    Warning shots will always get you in trouble.

    I think 20 years is incredibly excessive, but running out to get your gun and going back inside probably doesn’t help your case.

    • Calypso_1

      You are correct.
      Never menace with a gun.
      If you need to draw it is with intent to kill.

      • Andrew

        Clearly she should’ve killed Gray.

        • echar

          There would have been far less input to go on, so maybe. Meanwhile Bieber pissed in a mop bucket.

          • Eric_D_Read

            Shoot him. Stand up for the mop buckets who can’t defend themselves.

          • echar

            Fuk no, not another living creature on this earth is worth risking my freedom. I’ve had enough guns pulled or threatened to be pulled to know they are trouble. As for mop buckets, I can’t say I like ‘em. I’ve pushed around enough, but pissing in on is just fucked up.

        • Calypso_1

          It helps not to leave witnesses.

    • bobbiethejean

      Do you not see the problem here? No one was hurt or killed but she got 20 years. Meanwhile, Zimmerman is walking free and a boy is dead.

      • Apathesis

        Hence my use of ‘incredibly excessive.’

  • DeepCough

    The biggest bullshit here isn’t just the double standard of the Stand Your Ground law, but the mandatory minimum sentencing as well.

    • Eric_D_Read

      Yea. I can see why the self defense didn’t hold up since she want to the garage and then came back in the house, but 20 years minimum for that is crazy.

      • emperorreagan

        Mandatory minimums are shameful. There should always be discretion for circumstances. But state legislators pass crappy laws without considering their consequences or efficacy in exchange for the cheap law and order votes they can get by claiming to be tough on crime.

        • Eric_D_Read

          Not to mention generous monetary contributions from certain parties with a lot of money riding on mass incarceration.

      • Grif

        If anyone else came into my house and I got a gun from a garage I’d be called a hero for taking him out.

  • Apathesis

    Here’s the poop:
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/89763383/States-Motion-in-Opposition-of-Defendants-Motion-for-Immunity

    Turns out she’s not the saint people are trying to paint her out to be. Here’s the court documents.

    • Noah_Nine

      this certainly puts it in a new light…

      • Apathesis

        Fucking Joe Biden and his horrible legal advice about firing warning shots.

  • Guest

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/89763383/States-Motion-in-Opposition-of-Defendants-Motion-for-Immunity

    Why was this comment deleted? These are the court documents explaining what really happened.

    • Guest

      ^I posted this.

  • Ruby Red

    If she would had just killed him she’d be free like Zimmerman.

  • emperorreagan

    One of the big differences between the cases is that Marissa Alexander’s attorney filed a motion to dismiss under stand your ground, whereas Zimmerman’s attorney did not.

    Under Florida law, the burden of proof for immunity is on the defendant.

    ____

    In Marissa Alexander’s case, in the judge’s decision denying the motion, she notes:
    1. Alexander had multiple means to leave the house.
    2. Presented no evidence of the mechanical failure of the garage door (which she had been able to open to park her truck the day before).
    3. Never contacted the cops – the husband called the cops. She just stayed put in the marital home.
    4. Initiated contact with and physically attacked her husband after being released on bond (with the condition that she have no contact with her husband or his two sons).
    5. Intentionally passed the husband and his sons after the initial altercation, grabbed the gun, and returned back into the home where the shot was fired.

    And she ultimately denies the motion for immunity stating that Alexander’s actions are inconsistent with someone in fear for their life.

    ____

    In Zimmerman’s case, his attorney did not seek immunity under stand your ground. Zimmerman’s attorney, probably wisely, was taking advantage of the ambiguity of shooting in the defense. Seeking immunity would place the burden of proof on Zimmerman.

    That’s also interesting considering the song and dance Zimmerman’s attorney put on later in the courtroom about wanting to prove his client was innocent, not just not guilty. They passed up their chance to do exactly that and accept the burden of proof.

    ____

    I think where you can compare the cases is that the prosecutor overcharged in both cases.

    In Zimmerman’s case, she had to know her best chance of conviction was for a manslaughter charge. There was never a chance at 2nd degree murder.

    In Alexander’s case, she had the leeway to file charges such that Alexander would not have been subject to a 20 year minimum. In a system where leeway in sentencing is taken away from the judge, that’s where leeway still exists.

    • Ben Hopkins

      Thank you for your points…this should clear up all the wrong doings ppl are trying to insinuate because she made the mistake whether the husband was being aggressive or not. Even if he was, shooting a gun with kids around isn’t what I’d call self defense. I’d call it a bad way of trying to take control of a situation. Which is exactly what ppl are trying to do with comparing this to the Zimmerman trial. It’s a knee jerk reaction that ppl of all color creed or nationality need to take a step back and think. That would have helped everyone in both of these situations if you ask me….

  • Lee Swain

    Reading the court documents paints this case in a very different light to this CBS article.

    I think 20 years is harsh and Zimmerman walking free is disgusting. But this case is not as unfair as CBS make it sound.

  • Jake56665

    Why are people automatically assuming her allegations against her husband are true? Innocent until proven guilty, it wouldn’t be the first time someone’s tried to smear the victim of a violent crime in order to make it seem like less of a crime (in fact, depending on your opinion on the Zimmerman case some would claim that this is exactly what he did)

    I find it a little sad and disturbing that all someone has to do today to garner public sympathy after attacking their partner is to claim “he/she attacked me first” without it ever being proven in court. It’s on a par with how an accusation of paedophilia sticks with someone even if they’ve never been found guilty of anything, ever. We have due process rules for a damn good reason and it’s a real shame that so much of mainstream society has apparently turned its back on them.

  • $6241910

    According to biblical law.. The Law of the Christian Nation.. You have a vagina.. Therefore you are property. Lay down, spread your legs, take your rape, take your beating, you are his property. You can NOT fire a warning shot to prevent him from touching his own property.

    You can get all pissed off.. you can deny it all you want.. But in reality.. This case.. It what it all boils down to.

    See.. We love religion.. we need it. We NEED religious politicans and judges!

  • lilbear68

    instead of getting rid of the ‘stand your ground’ law florida should create a judicial review board and fire the judge that did this

  • Bo Treat

    20 years for what? she didn’t kill anyone, she didn’t harm anyone, and since when can you be imprisoned for pointing a gun at someone? this system is out of control! 100 years ago if you had a disagreement, killing a man was viable, today? calling the cops will almost certainly get that person in trouble. i’ve called the police once, and they were of no help. every other encounter? they were trying to find an excuse to cause me problems.

  • Bo Treat

    also, the misconception in stories? where was the bullet? that will define a few things….

  • Ben Hopkins

    Bottom line, Stand Your Ground Laws only work if you’re standing your ground at that very moment (with a weapon or in self defense). If she left and came back with a gun…then these situations are totally different when being compared to the Zimmerman trial. Personally I’m SICK of hearing how this is a Black vs White thing. The dude’s Mexican…despsite the jury’s races…if it was that important…the lawyer should have asked for a mistrial for the party who’s dead (with Trayvon being whom I’m speaking of). If he’s dead and the lawyer for the family doesn’t say anything about the jury, then justice was served. Moving on….

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