Marissa Alexander, woman sentenced to 20 years for firing warning shot, gets new trial

Associated Press | 9/26/2013, 11:36 a.m.


Associated Press

Marissa Alexander, 31. The mother of three was sentenced to twenty years in prison for firing a warning shot to fend off an attack from her husband.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Florida appeals court is ordering a new trial for a woman sentenced to 20 years in prison after she fired a warning shot in a wall during a dispute with her husband.

The 1st District Court of Appeal ruled that a judge did not properly instruct the jury handling the case of Marissa Alexander.

But the appeals court also said the judge was right to block Alexander from using the state's "stand your ground" law as a way to defend her actions.

Alexander had never been arrested before she fired a bullet at a wall one day in 2010 to scare off her husband when she felt he was threatening her. But the judge at her trial said her conviction on aggravated assault with a deadly weapon carried a mandatory 20-year sentence under state law.


Local leaders from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the National Action Network have called for Florida Governor Rick Scott to pardon Alexander.

The groups have asked the governor to create a task force to investigate mandatory sentencing laws, which they say disproportionately affect Black Americans. They also want an existing task force looking into Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law to examine how that statute has affected domestic violence victims.