Marissa Alexander, the mother of three who was convicted of aggravated assault after firing a warning shot during a scuffle with her abusive husband, has to wait until December 1 for a retrial because of questions about whether a new Florida bill could be used retroactively in her case. Alexander was previously denied for a Stand Your Ground hearing and Judge James Daniel was recently set to determine whether or not she was eligible this time. A decision on whether Alexander can get a Stand Your Ground hearing is now postponed until August 1.
Florida lawmakers passed a Warning Shot Bill in March and according to Alexander’s legal team, this bill can protect her, but Governor Rick Scott has yet to sign it into law. This NRA-backed bill would make it legal to fire warning shots based on a “perceived threat,” thereby turning what is now considered an armed aggravated assault into self-defense. Reports claim that because of that pending law, attorneys on both sides asked for an extension.
Alexander originally faced retrial on July 28. Last November, the 33-year-old mother was released on bond after an appeals court ruled in September that the jury in her trial was given flawed instructions. Even though no one lost their lives and she was being abused and therefore acting out of self defense, she was sentenced to 20 years and if convicted in this retrial, Alexander faces up to 60 years in prison!
Alexander’s case drew a lot of attention because it reminded us of another Florida case, George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman’s attorneys successfully argued that he had to shoot Martin, the unarmed teenager who was returning from a quick run to the store for a can of Arizona iced tea and a pack of Skittles and because Zimmerman felt Martin was a danger to him. The Stand Your Ground law that protected Zimmerman failed Alexander.
Zimmerman murdered Martin but did not get convicted, whereas Alexander didn’t murder or even injure anyone and has argued convincingly that she was being chased and abused by her husband. And she faces up to 60 years in prison. Alexander is a Black woman and Zimmerman is not and his victim was Black—it’s obvious race and possibly even gender differences plays a huge role in the severity of punishment in these scenarios.
Here’s hoping that the Warning Shot Bill gets signed into law and if not, that the Stand Your Ground hearing supports Marissa’s freedom.