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Senator Bullard seeks prayers from community

Amid two pleas for clemency for Giles, Alexander

Carla St.Louis | 3/13/2014, 9 a.m.
Marissa Alexander received a 20 year sentence just for firing a warning shot to her abusive husband.

One lawmaker fiercely continues to battle the outcome of two Floridians involving the use of firearms for self-defense amid the nation's outcry over Florida's controversial law, Stand Your Ground.

Senator Dwight Bullard (D-39) continued his quest to gain clemency for Marissa Alexander and Michael Giles, appealing to lawmakers to help overturn their convictions.

In an open letter sent via e-mail, Bullard requested his constituents to “pray for our guidance and courage to create and pass laws that protect the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all of the people of Florida and fix or repeal those laws [that] endanger.” 

Despite Bullard's efforts, neither Alexander or Giles’ Stand Your Ground case made it on the agenda for the 2014 Florida legislature session. 

Earlier this year, Bullard sent a letter to Governor Rick Scott asking for a review and response to Giles’ sentence on March 3. It is the second letter Bullard wrote to Scott regarding Giles. Another one was sent September of last year but did not draw a response from the governor.

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Michael Giles

Attorneys for both Alexander and Giles claim the two should be protected by the state’s provocative self-defense law, Stand Your Ground, which gives individuals the right to use fatal force to defend themselves without fleeing from life-threatening situations.

Under Stand Your Ground, a person can justifiably use the law as a defense or immunity to criminal charges and civil suit, as was the highly publicized case of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin trial and Michael Dunn in Jordan Davis trial.

In August of 2011, Michael Giles was convicted of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon for shooting a man with a registered firearm in the leg during a bar brawl in 2010.

The crime comes with a mandatory minimum sentence of twenty years in Florida. Giles, a former U.S. airman, is set to serve 25 years in prison for an act some argue was self-defense.

Giles’ new defense attorney is currently in the process of filing a motion for post-conviction relief, claiming that he received ineffective assistance of counsel.

So far, Giles' petition for clemency, started by his lawyers and loved ones, has received more than 56,000 signatures. His family is hoping to stir up more interest in his case following the national attention it spurred, even currently petitioning Florida’s Governor Rick Scott for clemency.

Alexander received a 20 year sentence just for firing a warning shot to her abusive husband.

Alexander’s conviction sparked national outrage among Black leaders before her case was overturn by an appellate judge who ordered a new trial in September. If convicted, Alexander could face 60 years in prison.