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Trial Judge Denies “Stand Your Ground” Immunity Hearing For Marissa Alexander

| July 21, 2014

Marissa Alexander

Marissa Alexander

The trial judge overseeing the case of Marissa Alexander, who faces 60 years in prison for firing a shot in a domestic dispute, has ruled that she is not entitled to a second immunity hearing under Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” self-defense law.

Judge James H. Daniel on Friday denied the request by Alexander, now a 33-year-old mother of three, who fired the shot during a 2010 dispute with her husband in her Jacksonville home.

The ruling comes after an appeals court ordered a new trial for Alexander and the Florida Legislature passed a law whose sponsor said he was inspired by her case to propose the so-called “warning shot” bill, which extends immunity to people who show a gun or threaten to use force in self-defense.

Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill into law June 20.

But Daniel, whose original decision was reversed by the 1st District Court of Appeal in September, wrote that the appellate ruling addresses only his instructions to the jury, not the basic facts of the case — and that Alexander still does not merit a “stand your ground” hearing.

“In reversing the defendant’s judgment and sentence and ordering a new trial, the First District expressly held, ‘(w)e reject (the defendant’s) contention that the trial court erred in declining to grant her immunity from prosecution under Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law, but we remand for a new trial because the jury instructions on self-defense were erroneous,’ ” Daniel noted.

Daniel had instructed the jury that Alexander had to show “beyond a reasonable doubt” that she feared bodily harm at the hands of her husband, Rico Gray, in order to prove she acted in self-defense. Instead, the jury convicted her of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, which carries a mandatory sentence of 20 years under Florida’s 10-20-Life law.

The appeals court ruled that Daniel’s instructions put too much of a burden on Alexander.

“The basic outlines of her claim and the victim’s claim have not changed at all,” Daniel wrote.

The Duval County judge also ruled that the new law cannot be applied retroactively.

Greg Newburn of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, who testified in favor of HB 89, said Alexander’s case was part of the reason for the bill’s success.

“It would be a shame if she was the last person to go to prison without the benefit of the safety valve that was passed, in part, because of her case,” he said.

State Attorney Angela Corey originally sought a 20-year sentence for Alexander, but is now seeking 60 years because two of Gray’s children were present when the shot was fired. The shot hit a wall, but Corey has said Alexander fired in anger, not in fear.

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

Alexander has been out on bond since the appeals court’s ruling, and her second trial is scheduled for December.

–News Service of Florida

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15 Responses for “Trial Judge Denies “Stand Your Ground” Immunity Hearing For Marissa Alexander”

  1. I had the feeling this was going to happen. It’s a really shame that we can acknowledge the flaw in the letter of the law but still be bound by it. I fear this will only get worse.

  2. NortonSmitty says:

    So Attorney General Barbie (TM) finally admits she made a mistake after all the public outcry and disbelief at the blatant discrepancy in the outcome of this case versus the Zimmerman case. And after review she decided her mistake was to sentence her to only twenty years instead of sixty?

    What’s the matter Pammy darlin’, you didn’t realize she was black the first time?

    • Outsider says:

      The article says it was Angela Corey who prosecuted the case. She is the same judge that ignored the facts in the Zimmerman case, chose to forego a grand jury and prosecute him in spite of the facts.

    • Nancy N. says:

      At this point she’s embarrassed after several high profile, racially charged losses. She’s out for revenge, not justice.

  3. confidential says:

    What a shameful, bigoted interpretation of law!
    I have seen black and blue from domestic abuse, women in Florida courts being mistreated by these chauvinistic judges and some in law enforcement as well.

  4. Flatsflyer says:

    Silly me, I assumed that SYG applied equally to all not just white people. Guess this just shows how wrong can I be?

  5. Anonymous says:

    I don’t recall all of this case BUT did she not leave the home as she was in fear of her husband then come back with the gun? if so I don’t get how she could use stand your ground?

  6. PC LOVER says:

    try all you want to make this a black and white issue, BUT ITS NOT ! its a human being issue.

  7. A.S.F. says:

    Florida, .once again, shows the nation EXACTLY what it stands for…at least where “Stand Your Ground” is concerned. It’s “All for ME and none for some.”

  8. Outsider says:

    If any of the race baiters would like to familiarize themselves with the FACTS of this case, you may find it necessary to eat crow. She was arguing with her husband, yes husband in her living room. He was there with HIS two sons from a previous marriage. There was no physical altercation. She left the room and went to the garage and returned with a pistol. She racks one round into the chamber and says, “I’ve got something for your ass!” She then fires one round towards the three individuals at head level, not into the ceiling as some have erroneously claimed. The bullet went through the wall at head level and ended up in the ceiling of the kitchen. Okay, so SYG doesn’t apply for a number of reasons. First, the law does not apply to persons who have a legal right to be, in this case, the dwelling. There was no restraining order in effect which would have negated this stipulation in the law. Secondly, the boys were HIS kids, so it’s not likely she was trying to prevent him from taking his own kids. Third, she claimed she tried to escape through the garage, but the opener would not work. The police found, however, that the door worked just fine during their investigation. Her story doesn’t add up, and there were three witnesses who confirmed what happened. She has only won a retrial because the original judge’s instructions to the jury regarding self defense were incorrect. That judge told the jury Marissa had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt she feared for her life. The truth is that you only need to reasonably be in fear for your life. This fact, and the misdirected outrage and charges of racism are why she’s getting a new trial. The facts of the case will not change.

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