“Stand Your Ground” Causes Controversy Again in Florida Courtroom

Civil right groups stand behind Marissa Alexander who, in a domestic fight with her husband, fired a single shot and now faces a 20-year prison sentence. 

Posted: 04/24/2012 11:30 AM EDT

Florida’s "Stand Your Ground" law, which some have described as “unjust” and “unfair,” has become more well-known and debated following the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

The law can keep a shooter out of jail, but it can also put you behind bars, as a new case involving a Florida mother shows.

According to the “official” blog site for Marissa Alexander, on Aug. 1, 2010, the 31-year-old mother of three was in a fight with her husband who had every intention of killing her, Alexander says. The couple had been in previous fights, and because of that, she obtained a concealed weapon permit to keep her safe.

When the fight in August escalated, Alexander shot the gun at her kitchen ceiling to scare her husband, she says. In response, he called police and told the officers his wife had shot the gun at him and his sons. Today, she sits in jail where she has been ever since the incident occurred and is currently awaiting sentencing on her conviction of three counts of aggravated assault "with no intent to harm." She faces a minimum 20 years in prison.

Alexander’s case has sparked a conversation nationwide questioning the law, and civil rights leaders have pledged to stay on top of the case.

“We’re definitely going to get involved in that, because I think she’s a glaring example of how they apply Stand Your Ground based on who you are, rather than what ground you’re standing,” Rev. Al Sharpton, who has also been an advocate for Trayvon Martin, told Loop21.com in an interview.

But Alexander’s husband, who chose not to be identified, recently told Politic365, "She’s just using the stand-your-ground because of the Trayvon incident.  I feel sorry for her but at the same time I thought I was going to die that day in front of my kids."

On her blog, Alexander writes:

In an unprovoked jealous rage, my husband violently confronted me while using the restroom. He assaulted me, shoving, strangling and holding me against my will, preventing me from fleeing all while I begged for him to leave. After a minute or two of trying to escape, I was able to make it to the garage where my truck was parked, but in my haste to leave I realized my keys were missing. I tried to open the garage but there was a mechanical failure. I was unable to leave, trapped in the dark with no way out. 

For protection against further assault I retrieved my weapon; which is registered and I have a concealed weapon permit. Trapped, no phone, I entered back into my home to either leave through another exit or obtain my cell phone.

He and my two stepsons were supposed to be exiting the house thru the front door, but he didn’t leave. Instead he came into the kitchen that leads to the garage and realized I was unable to leave. Instead of leaving thru the front door where his vehicle was parked outside of the garage, he came into the kitchen by himself. I was terrified from the first encounter and feared he came to do as he had threatened. The weapon was in my right hand down by my side and he yelled, “B**** I will kill you!”, and charged toward me. 

In fear and desperate attempt, I lifted my weapon up, turned away and discharged a single shot in the wall up in the ceiling. As I stood my ground it prevented him from doing what he threatened and he ran out of the home. Outside of the home, he contacted the police and falsely reported that I shot at him and his sons. The police arrived and I was taken into custody.

To date, Change.org has received more than 4,900 signatures in a petition addressed to the state of Florida asking to free Alexander.

In 2011, her case was subject to a "Stand Your Ground" motion hearing where it was denied by a circuit court judge. The judge said Alexander could have exited the house during the altercation as she and her husband argued, according to what Alexander's husband told Politic365.


Alexander will have a hearing April 30.

 

To learn more about Marissa’s story and how you can become involved, visit here.

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(Photo: Marissa Alexander)

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