A Florida woman who claimed self-defense after prosecutors say she fired a gun at her estranged husband and his two sons will finally be released from prison as part of a plea agreement.
Marissa Alexander was wrongly sentenced on Tuesday to the 1,095 days she has already served in jail after pleading guilty to three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for the 2010 shooting. She also received two years of house arrest.
The 34-year-old faced an overly harsh sentence of 60 years if convicted at trial because of Florida’s minimum-mandatory-sentencing law pertaining to firearm use.
The jury at her first trial found her guilty after deliberating for only 12 minutes.
The verdict was thrown out after a judge ruled the trial court incorrectly required Alexander to prove she was abused by her husband.
The Florida self-defense case had drawn national attention after Alexander was denied immunity under Florida’s “stand your ground” law.
It is outrageous that the state had sought to triple the original sentence for shooting a warning shot that actually injured no one.
Prosecutors said they were simply following state sentencing laws in seeking 60 years.
Alexander said she fired the warning shot a few days after giving birth. Her estranged husband, Rico Gray, accused her of having an affair and questioned whether a child was his. Alexander said she locked herself in the bathroom until he broke through the door and shoved her to the floor. She said she ran into the garage, found a gun in a car and fired a “warning shot” after Rico said he would kill her.
Prosecutors said the shot hit the wall, not the ceiling and could have hit Gray and two of his children. Prosecutors said they offered Alexander a plea deal of three years in prison which she turned down and chose to go to trial.
Here we have a woman claiming self-defense, who injured no one, possibly receiving to what amounted to a life sentence.
Alexander’s case inspired Florida lawmakers to reconsider parts of the so-called “warning shot” bill in the state legislature. In 2014, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a change into the law that protects individuals who point or fire warning shots in self defense. According to lawmakers, this change to the deeply-flawed “stand your ground” laws was enacted in due part to the case involving Alexander.