Here’s one to file under “Justice Delayed, but not nearly as long as we’d have guessed”: Marissa Alexander, the Florida woman who was sentenced to 20 years in prison after firing a warning shot into a wall to scare aware her (allegedly) abusive husband, will get a new trial. Alexander’s sentence got national attention because it seemed a weird contrast to George Zimmerman’s acquittal after killing Trayvon Martin — if you shoot somebody and claim self defense, that’s cool with Florida courts, but if you shoot a wall to scare an abusive spouse away, you get 20 years?
The not-necessarily-great news here is that the appeals court decision hinges on the instructions given to the jury, not the question of whether Alexander should have been allowed to use Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law as a defense.
Alexander, 32, has said that her husband, 36-year-old Rico Gray, had physically abused her in a dispute on Aug. 1, 2010.
She testified that she fled into a garage and got a gun, but was unable to leave the home because the garage door was stuck. She testified that she went back into the house, where Gray was with his two sons, and fired the shot.
The appeals court said Thursday that the judge was correct to bar Alexander from using the state’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law as a way to defend her discharge of the gun.
But, Judge James H. Daniel wrote in the ruling, “we remand for a new trial because the jury instructions on self-defense were erroneous.”
The appeals court agreed with the trial judge that Alexander’s return to the house ruled out a “Stand Your Ground” defense in this case, since it showed that she didn’t fear for her life. Yeah, we’re trying to wrap our head around the logic of that, too.
In any case we’re looking forward to seeing the outpouring of support and donations to Alexander’s defense fund from rightwing gun fondlers everywhere, who have an excellent opportunity to prove how much they love armed self-defense when the person on trial is a black woman.