Marissa Alexander — the Florida woman who claimed immunity based on the state’s “stand your ground” laws, but who was nonetheless sentenced to 20 years for discharging a firearm — will get a new trial. Alexander, who told the jury that she had fired a gun at the ceiling because she was afraid of her husband, became emblematic of the apparent racial double standard with which “stand your ground” claims are treated.
The judge did not grant Alexander a new trial because he believed the jury made the wrong choice in rejecting Alexander’s “stand your ground” immunity claim, but rather a new trial was called “because the jury instructions on self-defense were erroneous,” wrote Judge James H. Daniel.
Our old friend Irin Carmon reported for MSNBC:
Alexander, who had given birth the week before, testified that after an altercation regarding texts from her ex-husband, she locked herself in the bathroom. Her husband, Rico Gray, broke through the door, grabbed her by the neck, and shoved her into the door. She ran to the garage, found she couldn’t get the door open, and returned with a gun. When Gray saw the gun, he said, “Bitch, I’ll kill you.” Alexander testified that firing the gun into the air as a warning shot was “the lesser of two evils.”
The jury rejected her self-defense argument, and instead Alexander was sentenced under the “10-20-Life” law, which carries a series of mandatory minimum sentences related to gun crimes. The prosecutor in her case was Angela Corey, who also prosecuted George Zimmerman, who was acquitted in the death of Trayvon Martin. After an outcry at the apparent racial double standard in the application of “stand your ground,” Corey told the Washington Post, “I think social media is going to be the destruction of this country.”
The appeals court judge ruled that the lower court judge improperly put a burden on Alexander to prove that the firing was in self-defense.