Marissa Alexander, the African-American Florida woman sentenced to 20 years for firing a “warning shot” at her abusive husband, will not return to jail for violating bail, a judge ruled Friday.
Alexander is currently awaiting retrial for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. In 2010, she was sentenced to 20 years under the state’s mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines for firing a warning shot in the air during an argument with her abusive husband. She spent three years in jail before a state appeals court ruled in September that she was entitled to a new trial. She was released on $200,000 bond in November, but was put under house arrest and could leave only for court appearances, medical emergencies and pretrial appointments.
Alexander, however, was told by Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office officials that she could leave the house for various errands. Florida State Attorney Angela Corey filed a motion to put Alexander back in prison for violating the provisions of her bond, but a state judge rejected it Friday.
“Unfortunately, the State of Florida, knowing that [her corrections officer] had authorized and given Marissa Alexander permission for each of the trips and stops alleged by the State to be willful violations of Marissa Alexander’s bond, failed to include those exonerative facts in its application to this Court,” attorney Bruce Zimet wrote in his motion.
Alexander’s case sparked a national outcry when she was sentenced but George Zimmerman, the Florida man who fatally shot African-American teenager Trayvon Martin, was acquitted. Both defenses used “Stand Your Ground,” a state law that legally protects people who use deadly force to defend themselves from serious injury.
Alexander, who is 5-feet-two, said her 245-pound husband, Rico Gray, was about to attack her when she fired a gun once into the air during a August 2010 incident. Gray had been convicted of domestic violence. At the time of the shooting, Alexander had both a concealed weapons permit and active restraining order against Gray.
Alexander’s retrial will begin on March 31.
Media Resources: Reuters 1/10/2014; MSNBC 1/08/2014; Feminist Newswire 9/26/2013