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Update: ‘Stand Your Ground’ Fails Abused Wife

Update: ‘Stand Your Ground’ Fails Abused Wife

The Florida woman whose use of a ‘Stand your ground’ defense in a domestic violence case failed has been sentenced to 20 years.

Marissa Alexander, a mother of three, had fired a warning shot when she was in fear of her life from a husband who had a history of domestic violence. Her husband told her “if I can’t have you, nobody going to have you.”

But a judge rejected her ‘Stand your ground defense.’ He said she could have escaped, despite her having given birth prematurely only nine days before the 2010 incident with the baby in the house.

The sentence of 20 years without parole results from Florida’s statutory minimum sentencing laws.

“If we want to protect self-defense in Florida, we can’t have a 20-year mandatory minimum hanging over the heads of people who fire warning shots instead of just killing their attacker,” said Greg Newburn, Florida Project Director for Families Against Mandatory Minimums.

Criticism of the uneven application of the law in the wake of the Trayvon Martin case has led Florida Governor Rick Scott to order hearings into a possible review of the law. The law is supported by Florida voters, but according to polls, there is a yawning gender as well as partisan gap in its support.

Angela Corey, the special prosecutor brought into the Martin case by Rick Scott, has said she will fight the use of the “stand your ground” defense in that case. She has also said it doesn’t apply to Alexander either and is reported to be ‘incensed’ at what she says is widespread misreporting of the Alexander case, saying that if she could prosecute for misreporting she would.

Reports based on available court transcripts have been that Alexander’s warning shot went into the ceiling. Corey, who did not speak until Alexander’s retrial motion was heard but just before sentencing, says the one shot went into a wall then bounced to the ceiling and “happened to miss three human beings, and thank God she didn’t kill them.”

Corey said the self defense claim was invalidated because Alexander gave husband Rico Gray a black eye a few months after the 2010 shooting incident. This violated a no-contact court order.

Alexander’s two sons had originally said they feared for their safety but the eldest son later changed his account.

Her office said Corey had offered a plea bargain of three years, but Alexander rejected it, hoping to convince a judge she had been in fear for her life. News website Loop 21 reported that her office was not being completely forthcoming about the conditions of the offers.

“Once someone doesn’t get the result they want, they shouldn’t get to whine about it and complain,” Corey said.

“We can’t just say that because somebody [Gray] has a past, that they’re not worth (protection) like other people … that somebody can just pick up a gun and shoot them. You still have to do it within the bounds of the law, and (Marissa) did not.”

“What we’re saying is that she did it out of anger, not fear,” Corey said. “Her words proved that and her actions proved that.”

Linda Osmundson, director of Community Action Stops Abuse, the domestic violence shelter in St. Petersburg, told FlaglerLive:

“The thing I see they’re hanging their hat on is that she was angry,” Osmundson said. “Well, wouldn’t you be angry if someone was beating you up?”

“Ms. Alexander exhibited great courage and restraint in protecting herself while also not killing anyone,” said Rita Smith, director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “Where is the justice for battered women in Florida?”

Local Congresswoman Corrine Brown said, “this African American woman didn’t hurt anyone and now she might not hug her children for twenty years.” Brown is calling for a Justice Department review of potential racial disparities in the application of ‘Stand your ground’ defenses. Georgia’s similar law is being taken to a federal court because of concerns about those disparities.

Loop 21 spoke to Alexander, who rejected Corey’s account.

“Angela Corey is unfortunately getting bits and pieces from somebody who prefers to pervert justice, which is Rico Gray,” she said. “I find it very difficult for her to believe anything that he has to say. That’s pretty much where she’s going wrong, to begin with.”

“The truth doesn’t change. My truth has stayed the same. One of his sons have corroborated my story.”

“To me, it’s absurd for [Corey] to believe somebody who has a violent past with women, which is Rico … that I was the one who was angry. If you read the [motion] Judge Senterfitt denied, you can tell who is the aggressor. If you read [Rico’s] deposition, you can tell who is the aggressor. She’s the [state] attorney. I feel like she should know that. The facts are in black and white.”

“Look at the facts of the case and be fair. To me, it’s a human rights issue. You tell me that I can bear arms. You tell me that I can go to class and get a permit [to carry]. And you tell me everything that I need to do to get on the right side of the law, which also includes getting an injunction for no violence in place. And then you try to dictate to me my level of fear.”

Alexander attorney Kevin Cobbin says he did not mislead the public regarding the shot’s trajectory. “This is an elected official,” Cobbin said of Corey. “There is no fact that anybody has, that anybody is misleading … I really don’t understand what she’s talking about.”

Cobbin acknowledged that he did not volunteer information in any press interviews that he believed might have hurt Alexander’s chances at a new trial, which a judge denied her late last week.

Says Alexander:

“You tell me [Stand Your Ground covers] deadly force. And I chose that day not to kill my husband. It was a deterrent, and thank God it actually worked. Had it not, we would have had another statistic. And that would have been me being dead.”

“I have to continue to fight. I have children who need me.”

An appeal is being prepared. As well, Rick Scott and Florida’s Cabinet can grant Alexander clemency.

Said Congresswoman Brown:

“The three year plea deal from Angela Corey is not mercy and a mandatory twenty year sentence is not justice. I hope that the people will come to Marissa’s defense as the system has so utterly failed her. This is just the beginning, not the end.”

· You can sign a petition for Marissa here.

Related stories:

‘Stand Your Ground’ Fails Abused Wife

New Shocking ‘Stand Your Ground’ Case, But Florida Unlikely To Revisit Law

House GOP Version Of VAWA Would Strip Confidentiality From Abuse Victims

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101 comments

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12:07AM PDT on May 19, 2012

Many people in this nation refuse to recognize that justice is not equally applied.

This lack of recognition is the result of relying on a false right wing information source like Fox "News" and hate radio.

Justice is often not applied at all, equal or otherwise.

Don't be a dummy, don't watch Fox "News".

6:04PM PDT on May 18, 2012

This Corey bitch is somebody I want to hit.
Poor Marissa is getting sentenced to 20 years, when she didn't hurt anyone? This has got to be one of the biggest injustices. I can't even begin to rant.

3:05AM PDT on May 18, 2012

@Erica B. Yeah it does seem that way. Though I've seen too many stories of abused prostitutes going to prison for life for killing their pimps.

I think the most important thing is to know your rights when dealing with any law enforcement. The basic rule of thumb is never talk to the police whether you are guilty or innocent and never give consent to any warrantless search, but of course never physically resist them either.

There is a good lecture from a law professor on why you should never talk to law enforcement, or consent to warrantless searches.
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4097602514885833865

Plus a good website devoted to helping you understand your rights when dealing with law enforcement:
http://flexyourrights.org/faq

Basically there are a lot of stupid laws, and everyone probably breaks some without even knowing it. Plus many people accidentally say things that get them convicted of crimes they didn't even commit.


1:52AM PDT on May 18, 2012

I think Florida is very back ass-wards for many reasons, but what I am going to say probably applies in all states. I mentioned this earlier, but since you brought it up, MD L, I'll say it again. The only way Marrissa could make sure she wasn't convicted of a serious crime would be if she shot her husband dead (preferably with the first shot), put a big knife in his hand (with her prints wiped off it), and claimed that "He was coming right at me!" It's the same thing if someone breaks into your house. If you just wound them, they are likely to sue you, or turn it around and get YOU jail time. If you KILL them, however, they can't say anything against you, and as long as they had a weapon, you wouldn't be in trouble.

The whole problem here is that the death of your abuser is the only way to NOT be convicted of a crime! Sad, but true.

12:22AM PDT on May 18, 2012

Are Florida women supposed to get white guys to shoot their abusive husbands dead? Maybe stick a hoodie on the body to make it more "convincing"? I don't quite understand what combination of f*cked up laws did this, but even 3 years would have been too much.

12:11AM PDT on May 18, 2012

That's the point, MD L. WTF!

12:07AM PDT on May 18, 2012

WTF? She got 20 years for firing a shot into the ceiling? What kind of inbred kkkangaroo court was she in? I mean seriously, 20 years for firing a WARNING shot near an abusive husband? WTF?

11:44PM PDT on May 17, 2012

Ugh! I pray I can live to see the day when people no longer have labels like "Hispanic," "African American," "Native American," etc., but are just called "people." My grade school, back in the 60's, had a unique program to combat prejudice...I hope they are still doing it. I was taught to not use labels...for instance, do not say "My black friend, John," or "I'm having dinner with Judith, my Jewish friend." I was taught that people have mixed backgrounds, and even someone with very pale skin has origins in Africa, the Middle East, or even Asia. So how can we be prejudiced against our OWN ancestry?

4:49PM PDT on May 16, 2012

she is a woman, so now you expect them to care about a woman? do not be so ridiculous. her purpose is sex, and a pregnancy is not allowed; it causes so much headache with the missus back home. and a pregnancy is her problem. sex should be her prerogative and his problem, but as a dominated woman, she is stuck. in this case, the judge's needs to be examined. I wager you will find plenty of air in there.

4:04PM PDT on May 16, 2012

George Zimmerman stalks a black teenager, shoots him dead on the spot after which he walked scot-free out of the Police Station who took no photos, did no blood tests for alcohol, gathered no evidences...and took the killer's word that it was "self-defense" - Fact: Skin color of killer is white. Skill color of victim is black.

Marissa Alexander, merely fired a warning shot to scare-off her abusive husband who threatened to kill her. No one was killed, no one was hurt. She gets 20 years prison. Her children left motherless. Fact: Marissa Alexander skin color is black.

It is just plain evil goings on, on and on and on for the African-Americans in this country.

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