A Florida judge denied Marissa Alexander a new stand your ground hearing, finding that the new addition of a “warning shot” provision to the state’s controversial law could not be applied retroactively to Alexander’s case.  The law allows a person to fire without retreat if they have “reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or herself.”

Alexander, who partially inspired the new provision, says she fired a warning shot at her self-admitted abusive husband, Rico Gray, after he threatened to kill her.  She was denied immunity in her first hearing.  She was later convicted at trial of aggravated assault and sentenced to 20 years in prison, due to another controversial Florida law on mandatory minimum sentencing.  Her conviction was overturned on appeal because of incorrect jury instructions.

Florida State Attorney Angela Corey is now seeking 60 years, triple the original mandatory sentence.

Alexander’s lawyers argued that evidence not introduced at the first stand your ground hearing warranted a new hearing, including witness recantation, battered women’s syndrome testimony, and Gray’s history of domestic violence.  Judge James Daniel wrote in his ruling that the new evidence does not merit a new self-defense hearing because “the basic outlines [of the case]…have not changed…”

The case will now proceed to retrial.  A new jury will decide if Alexander had a “reasonable fear of imminent peril” when Gray broke through the door of the bathroom, where she says she was hiding, grabbed her by the neck, choked her, and shoved her to the floor.  Alexander says he threatened to kill her when she escaped to the garage.  She found herself trapped when the garage door wouldn’t open, so she retrieved a gun and fired into a wall.  No one was harmed.

Corey’s office said, “The state stands ready to take this case to trial and seek justice for our two child victims and their father.”


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