Marissa Alexander, the Florida woman who was imprisoned for firing warning shots against her abusive husband, will face up to 60 years of prison during her re-trial in July.
Alexander was initially sentenced to 20 years for firing warning shots during an altercation with Rico Gray, her estranged and formerly abusive husband. Nobody was injured when Alexander fired the shots into the air, although according to Alexander, Gray was threatening her life at the time. Alexander’s initial sentence reflected three 20-year sentences to be served concurrently, but Florida state prosecutor Angela Corey will now seek to sentence Alexander to consecutive sentences totaling 60 years in prison.
“Remember that this entire case boils down to a woman defending her life from her husband who attacked her, strangled her, threatened to kill her, whose beatings have sent her to the hospital and likely caused her to have premature labor,” said Sumayya Fire, a Victim Advocate with Free Marissa Now. “Now [Alexander is] facing the very real possibility of spending the rest of her life in prison for that act of self-defense. That should send a chill down the back of every person in this country who believes that women who are attacked have the right to defend themselves.”
Corey unsuccessfully prosecuted George Zimmerman for murder charges after he killed Florida teen Trayvon Martin, but her stance on Alexander has angered many advocates and Florida residents. Like Zimmerman, Alexander is being prosecuted under the state’s infamous Stand Your Ground law, which allows Floridians to resort to deadly violence when they believe their lives may be in imminent danger, and qualifies such actions as self-defense even if no attempt to retreat was made. Unlike Zimmerman, Alexander has been unable to persuade officials in her case that she was acting in self-defense, despite Gray’s own admission that he has previously threatened her life.
A Florida appeals court in September ordered a new trial for Alexander after finding that the trial judge had issued improper jury instructions on self-defense. Alexander, who has three children, was released on bail last year.
Media Resources: MSNBC 3/3/2014; Salon 3/3/2014; US News 3/3/2014; Free Marissa Now 3/1/14; Feminist Newswire 1/14/14, 9/26/13; Feminist Majority Foundation Blog 7/18/2013