Marissa Alexander, the young mother who was sentenced to a 20-year jail term for firing a "warning shot" near her ex-husband in what she claimed was self-defense, has been ordered to receive a new trial. Alexander became the subject of much support after George Zimmerman was not arrested after killing Trayvon Martin because of Florida's "Stand Your Ground" defense. He later went to trial, but was acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges. Many thought it was unfair that Zimmerman did not go to jail for killing an unarmed black teen, while a black woman was in jail for not killing anyone. Now she might have her shot at going free.
It all started when Marissa and her ex-husband, Rico Gray, began arguing in their Florida home. Gray had accused her of cheating and questioning whether he was the father of their 1-week-old child. Rico reportedly had a history of abusing Marissa, who had once been hospitalized at his hands. She filed a restraining order.
During the argument, Gray ran out to her car and retrieved a gun, which she was licensed to carry. She returned to the house, carrying the gun at her side. She claimed that when Rico saw it, he charged her and threatened to kill her, so she fired a shot, missing Gray and his two young sons, who were also in the house.
A judge dismissed Marissa's "Stand Your Ground" contention because she had originally left the house -- which ended any potential deadly conflict. Marissa, however, claims she couldn't get out of the garage and had no choice but to re-enter the house. (Even after the shooting, Marissa and Gray were still in contact and had yet another physical confrontation, this time with Gray ending up the battered one.)
The judge also said he was stymied by the state's mandatory "10-20-Life" sentencing rules -- in this case, the 20 years that Marissa received. Now, however, the judge says that the jury was not instructed correctly -- that it wasn't that Marissa had to prove she acted in self-defense, but that the prosecution had to prove she did not.
Yeah, it gets kind of tricky.
I'm not so sure things that things will go better for Marissa this time -- but it does seem unfair that in a world where people routinely get off with almost nothing for vehicular manslaughter, Marissa is serving a life sentence for a bullet that killed no one. Especially considering that she had ample reason to be scared of Gray.
I'm not saying she doesn't deserve something -- but 20 years is excessive. If she does get another chance at freedom, I hope she doesn't blow it by getting back into that toxic relationship!
Do you think she deserves another trial?
Image via Drpippa/YouTube