A judge in Florida sentenced a woman to 20 years in prison after firing a warning shot to scare away her abusive husband.
After going through her phone and discovering some text messages to her ex, Marissa Alexander’s husband became enraged and tried to choke her.
She got away and ran into her garage, indending to drive away. But she forgot her keys, she said, so she retrieved her gun and went back into the house.
When her husband threatened to kill her, she fired one shot.
“I believe when he threatened to kill me, that’s what he was absolutely going to do,” she said in court. “That’s what he intended to do. Had I not discharged my weapon at that point, I would not be here.”
Alexander’s legal counsel attempted to use Flordia’s Stand Your Ground law, which permits the use of deadly force anytime someone feels reasonably threatened with serious bodily harm or death.
A previous judge in the case rejected the request, stating that Alexander’s decision to reenter her residence was not consistent with someone in fear for her safety.
Alexander was convicted by a jury in March, and Judge James Daniel denied her request for a new trial in April. Daniel handed down the sentence Friday.
During the heavy opposition from the courtroom, Daniel made a point to say that he had no choice under state law.
“Under the state’s 10-20-life law, a conviction for aggravated assault where a firearm has been discharged carries a minimum and maximum sentence of 20 years without regarding to any extenuating or mitigating circumstances that may be present, such as those in this case,” Daniel said.
Alexander’s husband admitted that he was the agressor, threatened her life and was so enraged that he did not know what he would do – this being under sworn statement in November of 2010.
Alexander’s husband was arrested for domestic violence twice – once for abuse against Alexander. That attack landed Alexander in the hospital.
Alexander has no prior arrests or criminal record.
This case looks especially heinous after Trayvon Martin’s murder and the outrage that it has caused. What if it was a man who discharged the weapon after fearing for his life? Better yet, what would be the difference in ruling if Alexander was a white woman?
That the jury found Alexander to have lied about feeling that her life was in danger solely because she reentered the house with her gun speaks to an internal sexist drive that plagues our nation. A soldier can be scared out of his mind but still raise his rifle and fire on the enemy, but a woman can’t fear for her life and still have the fortitude to face her fear with confidence and strength?
This is less about whether Alexander felt like her life was in danger and more about a black woman who was in control and was expressing power. America is sick with this idea that women are submissive and docile creatures; that Alexander grabbed a gun and did not allow her husband to control the situation did not mean she was not fearing for her life, it means that she was a strong, resilient woman.
This case is not convicting a liar who neglegently discharged her gun; it’s convicting women who have the audacity to stand up for themselves and refuse to let someone else hold power over them.
Please consider signing this Change.org petition to Free Marissa Alexander.