Marissa Alexander: can't win for losing
I'm sure you all recall the case of Marissa Alexander, the African American Floridian who got a long prison sentence for shooting a warning shot to chase off her abusive husband. We all became aware of it in the shadow of the Trayvon Martin trial as people noted the contrast between the outcomes of the two cases (and the obvious contrast in the color of the skin of the defendant ...)
Anyway, there's news. And it's not good:
Florida State Attorney Angela Corey will seek to triple Marissa Alexander’s original prison sentence from twenty to sixty years, effectively a life sentence for the 33-year-old woman, when her case is retried this July, the Florida Times-Union reports.
Alexander was convicted on three charges of aggravated assault in 2012 for firing warning shots in the direction of Rico Gray, her estranged husband, and his two children. No one was hurt. Alexander’s attorneys argued that she had the right to self-defense after Gray physically assaulted and threatned to kill her the day of the shooting. In a deposition, Gray confessed to a history of abusing women, including Alexander.
In September of 2013 a District Appeals court threw out the conviction on grounds that Circuit Judge James Daniel erroneously placed the burden on Alexander to prove she acted in self-defense, when she only had to meet a “reasonable doubt concerning self-defense.”
Judge Daniel originally slapped Alexander with three twenty-year prison sentences, but ordered that they be served concurrently. If Alexander is convicted a second time in July, State Attorney Angela Corey will seek consecutive sentences, adding up to sixty years in prison.
Florida’s 10-20-Life law imposes a mandatory minimum of twenty years in prison for anyone who fires a gun while committing a felony. Angela Corey’s prosecution team says it is following a court ruling that multiple convictions for related charges under 10-20-Life should carry consecutive sentences.
I guess I don't understand why this woman is being re-tried on the same charges. I get that the government is concerned with people firing warning shots at others, but it seems to me to be a natural consequence of the state's loose gun laws. Everybody's packing heat around there and if there's ever been a case in which one might go easy on the defendant, it should be this one. It simply cannot be ok that you can actually kill an unarmed person and be considered justified simply because you were "afraid" but that you can spend decades in jail for merely shooting a warning shot for exactly the same reason. The lesson here would be that Marissa Alexander would have been far better off killing her ex-husband. That can't be right.