Published on July 16th, 2013 | by Daniel Perlman0
Florida woman sentenced in controversial warning shot case
Saying he had no discretion under state law, a judge sentenced a Jacksonville, Florida, woman to 20 years in prison Friday for firing a warning shot in an effort to scare off her abusive husband.
Marissa Alexander unsuccessfully tried to use Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law to derail the prosecution, but a jury in March convicted her of aggravated assault after just 12 minutes of deliberation.
The case, which was prosecuted by the same state attorney who is handling the Trayvon Martin case, has gained the attention of civil rights leaders who say the African-American woman was persecuted because of her race.
Corey said she had offered Alexander a plea bargain that would have resulted in a three-year prison sentence, but Alexander chose to take the case to a jury trial, where a conviction would carry a mandatory sentence under a Florida law known as “10-20-life.”
The law mandates increased penalties for some felonies, including aggravated assault, in which a gun is carried or used.
Corey said the case deserved to be prosecuted because Alexander fired in the direction of a room where two children were standing.
Alexander said she was attempting to flee her husband, Rico Gray, on August 1, 2010, when she picked up a handgun and fired a shot into a wall.
She said her husband had read cell phone text messages that she had written to her ex-husband, got angry and tried to strangle her.
She said she escaped and ran to the garage, intending to drive away. But, she said, she forgot her keys, so she picked up her gun and went back into the house. She said her husband threatened to kill her, so she fired one shot.
Alexander’s attorneys tried to use the state law that allows people to use potentially deadly force anywhere they feel reasonably threatened with serious harm or death.
But a previous judge in the case rejected the request, saying Alexander’s decision to go back into the house was not consistent with someone in fear for her safety, according to the Florida Times Union newspaper.
A jury convicted Alexander in March and Judge James Daniel denied her request for a new trial in April.
Daniel handed down the sentence Friday after an emotional sentencing hearing during which Alexander’s parents, 11-year-old daughter and pastor spoke on her behalf.
Several people had to be escorted from the courtroom after breaking out singing and chanting about a perceived lack of justice in the case, but Daniel made a point to say that he had no choice under state law.
Source: cnn.com “Florida woman sentenced in controversial warning shot case,” July 16, 2013.