Friday, May 11, 2012

This Really Doesn't Sound Right

A woman in Florida was convicted of aggravated assault for firing a warning shot.  From May 11, 2012 CNN:
(CNN) -- Saying he had no discretion under state law, a judge sentenced a Jacksonville, Florida, woman to 20 years in prison Friday for firing a warning shot in an effort to scare off her abusive husband.
Marissa Alexander unsuccessfully tried to use Florida's controversial "stand your ground" law to derail the prosecution, but a jury in March convicted her of aggravated assault after just 12 minutes of deliberation.
...
Alexander said she was attempting to flee her husband, Rico Gray, on August 1, 2010, when she picked up a handgun and fired a shot into a wall.
She said her husband had read cell phone text messages that she had written to her ex-husband, got angry and tried to strangle her.
She said she escaped and ran to the garage, intending to drive away. But, she said, she forgot her keys, so she picked up her gun and went back into the house. She said her husband threatened to kill her, so she fired one shot.
"I believe when he threatened to kill me, that's what he was absolutely going to do," she said. "That's what he intended to do. Had I not discharged my weapon at that point, I would not be here."
Perhaps there is something not being reported completely or accurately here, but assuming that her claims about what happened were not contradicted by other evidence, it sounds like she had a legitimate basis to fear for her safety, and if her children were still in the house, I can see why discovering that you did not have the keys to the car would be a valid reason to re-enter the house, even if you perceived the abusive husband to be a threat.

In this case, because Ms. Alexander is black, civil rights activists are upset that she did not get the benefit of Florida's Stand Your Ground law.  At least as CNN relates the story, she certainly has a plausible case for why she should get the benefit of the doubt.

2 comments:

Sebastian said...

There's a lot more to it than is being reported:

http://www.pagunblog.com/2012/04/30/is-marissa-alexander-a-poster-child-for-syg/

It set off my BS alarms as well, and when I did some digging, she dug her own grave on this one.

That said, the husband she fired the "warning shot" at, is a walking piece of human debris. If you read the deposition he gave, you'll wish she had aimed more true.

James B. Shearer said...

It's hard to judge this sort of thing from news accounts as they aren't very reliable. Here is another story which differs about many of the details. Apparently there are grounds to doubt Marrisa Alexander's version of what happened. Anyway it looks like the jury didn't buy it.

The sentence seems a bit harsh but that can happen when you turn down plea deals and roll the dice by going to trial on a charge with a big mandatory minimum.