In Jacksonville, Florida, Marissa Alexander was sentenced to 20 years in prison for three counts of aggravated assault after firing a warning shot at her ex-husband inside their home on August 2010 (video below).
At the time, Alexander had already taken out a restraining order against her ex-husband, Rico Gray. Earlier that year when he was arrested for physically abusing her.
Alexander, an African-American, said that she fired only a “warning shot” when confronted by her threatening ex-husband.
However, the State Attorney's office said that Alexander was the aggressor, not her husband. State Attorney Angela Brown added that there were two children present at the time of the shooting.
Still, Alexander believed she was protected that day under the state's 'Stand Your Ground Law,' which gives people wide discretion in using deadly force to defend themselves.
Alexander's defense attorney, Kevin Cobbin, wanted a new trial based on 'Florida's Stand Your Ground' law and said that it should have applied in this case, but the judge and jury disagreed.
Circuit Judge James Daniel said that Florida’s '10-20-Life' statutes took away any sentencing discretion out of his hands. The law states that firing a gun during a crime requires a mandatory 20-year sentence.
U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown Brown was outraged at the verdict: “How many times have they accepted Stand Your Ground if the person that was asking for it was black?”
State Attorney Angela Corey said she offered Alexander a plea bargan of three years, which Alexander refused.
Alexander's sentencing came 435 days after the shooting. It took a jury 12 minutes to find her guilty.