Marissa Alexander's Stand Your Ground debacle has echoes of the Trayvon Martin case, but the law doesn't seem to be protecting her in the same way it helped Martin's attacker, George Zimmerman, avoid prosecution for a month and a half.
Marissa Alexander says that she had to pull out her registered handgun and shoot a warning shot in order to protect herself from her abusive husband, but she is facing 20 years in prison for the 2010 incident, according to First Coast News. Her lawyer, Kevin Cobbin, says she should be protected under Florida's Stand Your Ground gun law, which gives citizens broad protections if they shoot someone in self-defense.
After all, George Zimmerman told police officers in Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26 that he killed unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in self-defense, buying himself a month-and-a-half of daylight before the case became a national media circus, the U.S. Justice Department took over the investigation, and he was charged with second-degree murder.
The details in the Martin case show that he went out looking for shady characters as a neighborhood watchman, then confronted Martin despite being told not to by a 911 dispatcher. Whether or not he was attacked, or whatever other details are proven in the end by investigators, he was not an abused spouse allegedly trying to protect herself from an enraged husband. He was a man with a gun out looking for trouble, and he found it.
But Marissa Alexander, a 31-year-old Jacksonville mother of three who had been hospitalized after a prior beating by her husband, who has been arrested for domestic violence in the past (one incident even forced one of her children to be born prematurely), did not get the benefit of the doubt George Zimmerman was granted.
And she didn't even kill anyone, she simply pulled out her gun and fired a warning shot that injured no one, and she now faces three counts of aggravated assault for that move (one charge for her husband and one for each of two of their children who were also in the room at the time.)
I was fearing for my life and that's why I fired, Alexander said, according to the news website Loop 21, in a statement that has echoes of the Trayvon Martin case.
And now she is in a jail cell, fearing her minimum 20 year sentence for shooting her domestic abuser husband. She was supposed to be sentenced Monday morning, but the sentencing was postponed.
Cobbin said the trial shows that the Stand Your Ground law is not being applied equally in different cases:
This case says, sit there and take your beating, Cobbin told Loop 21. If you try to defend yourself, the abuser becomes the victim and (the state is) going to help him to get you incarcerated.
In fact, Gray even described a prior domestic violence incident in his own words in a deposition:
And the third incident (with Alexander) we was staying together and I pushed her back and she fell in the bathtub and hit her head and I-- you know, by the time I ran downstairs and got in my car to leave, you know, that's the time I went to jail, the police picked me up down the street.
But none of this moved the judge on the case, who dismissed a Stand Your Ground motion by the defense.
The defendant had split seconds to decide if she was in fear for her life and ultimately the judge found that there were other things she could have done like leave the residence through a front door or a back door, defense attorney Jesse Dreicer, who has knowledge of the case but did not work on it, told First Coast News.
This is the state of justice in Florida under the unevenly-applied Stand Your Ground statutes.