Rolling Out

Marissa Alexander now facing 60 years for warning shot at abusive husband

Mandatory Minimums

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.  — To further illustrate the infuriating incompetency and lunacy coming out of the state prosecutor’s office in Florida, Marissa Alexander is now staring at 60 years in prison for firing the warning shot from her handgun at her abusive husband that injured no one.

As you recall, Alexander, 33, was convicted in 2012 on three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and sentenced to 20 years in prison because she would serve those three counts concurrently (It would have been a 60-year sentence initially if the judge had sentenced Alexander to serve the three counts consecutively).

When the public outrage erupted at such a ridiculously exorbitant sentence since none of her children or husband was injured, an appeals court tossed the conviction, saying Circuit Judge James Daniel made a mistake in shifting the burden to Alexander to prove she acted in self-defense.

During jury instructions, the judge said Alexander had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that her husband was abusive toward her.

The case drew national attention after Alexander was denied immunity under Florida’s “stand your ground” law.

The multitude of Alexander’s irate supporters are confused that the state prosecutors office — the same office that could not convict George Zimmerman nor Michael Dunn of murder in the shooting deaths of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis — would have the intestinal fortitude seeking triple the original sentence.

“It’s unimaginable that a woman acting in self-defense, who injured no one, can be given what amounts to a life sentence,” Free Marissa Now spokeswoman Helen Gilbert told the Florida Times-Union. “This must send chills down the spine of every woman and everyone who cares about women and every woman in an abusive relationship.”

Assistant State Attorney Richard Mantei told the Florida Times-Union the state is simply following sentencing laws in seeking 60 years.

The same court that ordered Alexander’s retrial ruled that when a defendant is convicted of multiple counts from the same crime, judges must make the sentences consecutive, instead of concurrently, as Alexander was originally serving.

“Absent a plea agreement, if convicted as charged, the law of the State of Florida fixes the sentence,” Mantei said. “At this time, Ms. Alexander has rejected all efforts by the State to resolve the case short of trial.”

Attorney Bruce Zimet has argued that it would be a tragic miscarriage of justice to put his client in prison for what likely amounts to a life sentence.

Alexander’s case has inspired the so-called “warning shot” bill that will be considered once the state Legislature convenes in Tallahassee on Tuesday.

Alexander said she fired the warning shot a few days after giving birth. She justified the shooting of her gun at her husband, Rico Gray, because he was aggressive towards her when he accused her of having an affair and questioned whether the baby was his. She says she locked herself in the bathroom to escape another violent episode until he broke through the door and shoved her to the floor. Afterward, Alexander ran into the garage, found a gun in a car and fired a “warning shot” after he said he would kill her.

Prosecutors justify the arrest and prosecution of Alexander because they counter with the fact that she shot at the wall, not the ceiling, and could have hit Gray or his children. At one point they offered Alexander a plea deal of three years in prison. She turned that down and chose to go to trial.

And now Alexander is staring at possible 60 years in prison instead of three.

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