On Friday, a Florida judge charged Marissa Alexander with three counts of aggravated assault and sentenced her to 20 years in prison for firing a “warning shot” in front of her abusive ex-husband. No one was hurt in the incident but because of a controversial Florida law the 31-year old woman is now facing a mandatory 20-years in prison.
Her attorneys wanted a new trial based on Florida’s Stand Your Ground law but the Judge presiding the case disagreed.
Her attorneys claimed self-defense and cited the state’s Stand Your Ground law, which gives people some protection from prosecution for using potentially deadly force in cases in which they feel their life is threatened. The law came under nationwide scrutiny during the Trayvon Martin case, when neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman shot an unarmed teen and authorities waited weeks before charging him.
But a jury agreed with prosecutors that the law didn’t apply because she left during the argument, got a gun and returned to confront him, WJXT reported.
On Friday, Judge James Daniel sentenced Alexander to 20 years without parole. Daniel said he had no leniency under Florida’s “10-20-life” law that requires someone convicted of firing a handgun during the commission of a felony to serve 20 years.
“Ten-20-life is not meant for people like Marissa Alexander,” Alexander’s attorney, Kevin Cobbin told WJXT. “She’s never been in trouble, has a Ph.D. The lady is a great mother to her own kids and her step-children. And the law is not made for her. The legislature did not think about people like her when they made the law.”
In an op-ed published Saturday, syndicated columnist Roland Martin called Alexander’s imprisonment “a miscarriage of justice.”
“Judges should have the discretion to consider a variety of factors in sentencing, and I have no doubt had this judge been given flexibility, Alexander wouldn’t be going to prison for 20 years,” Roland wrote on CNN.
“One hopes that Florida Gov. Rick Scott will find some compassion and grant Alexander a pardon, and the Florida Legislature will revise the law to prevent future miscarriages of justice,” Roland went on to say.