Double Standard? Black Woman In Florida Facing 20-Year Sentence For Standing Her Ground

28 comments
April 18, 2012 ‐ By

After seeing the effect public outcry and activism had in the Trayvon Martin case, a black Florida woman is pleading for support as she faces a 20-year sentence for firing  a shot in the air with a gun she had a permit for and was trained to use after her husband assaulted her—i.e., standing her ground.

JusticeforMarissa.blogspot.com is the site where Jacksonville resident Marissa Alexander’s story is being told via Lincoln B. Alexander, Jr., and according to the site, the following events which occurred in August 2010 led to Marissa’s current situation:

“My name is Marissa Alexander, I am a mother of three children, but at the present time, I am not able to be with them due to the following circumstances.  I am currently sitting in the Pretrial Detention Facility in Jacksonville FL, Duval County awaiting a sentence for three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon with no intent to harm.  Before my life changed drastically on that August afternoon, I was in the perilous position of leaving an abusive relationship with my husband who has history of violence and documented domestic abuse towards women.  Our history included one which required me to place an injunction for protection against violence and was active during the month of August 2010.

“In an unprovoked jealous rage, my husband violently confronted me while using the restroom.  He assaulted me, shoving, strangling and holding me against my will, preventing me from fleeing all while I begged for him to leave.  After a minute or two of trying to escape, I was able to make it to the garage where my truck was parked, but in my haste to leave I realized my keys were missing.  I tried to open the garage but there was a mechanical failure. I was unable to leave, trapped in the dark with no way out.  For protection against further assault I retrieved my weapon; which is registered and I have a concealed weapon permit.  Trapped, no phone, I entered back into my home to either leave through another exit or obtain my cell phone.

“He and my two stepsons were supposed to be exiting the house thru the front door, but he didn’t leave.  Instead he came into the kitchen that leads to the garage and realized I was unable to leave.  Instead of leaving thru the front door where his vehicle was parked outside of the garage, he came into the kitchen by himself.  I was terrified from the first encounter and feared he came to do as he had threatened.  The weapon was in my right hand down by my side and he yelled, “Itchbay I will kill you!”, and charged toward me.  In fear and desperate attempt, I lifted my weapon up, turned away and discharged a single shot in the wall up in the ceiling.  As I stood my ground it prevented him from doing what he threatened and he ran out of the home.  Outside of the home, he contacted the police and falsely reported that I shot at him and his sons.  The police arrived and I was taken into custody.”

Beyond the account of that day’s event, several concerns about the why the stand your ground law was not applied in this instance were outlined, including:

  • In November 2010, Marissa’s husband, who was arrested for domestic violence twice—once in an altercation that sent Marissa to the hospital—admitted in a sworn statement that he was the aggressor and threatened her life.
  • Marissa’s injunction against her husband and admission that she was in fear of her life prior to the arrest was ignored.
  • After a hearing in July 2011, a judge denied Marissa’s motion, saying that she could have exited the house thru the master bedroom window, front door, and/or sliding glass back door, despite the fact that the law specifically states: No duty to retreat.
  • Under Florida’s 10-20-life sentencing guideline, Marissa’s felony charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to harm carries a twenty year mandatory sentence.

The idea that firing a warning shot in the air in self-defense without harming anyone has placed Marissa in this predicament has caused her family to ask people who hear her story to send letters of support to Judge James Daniel pleading for justice in her case. For more details you can also check out her website here.

What do you think about this case?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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  • Alex Yamach

     DUH! You can’t use the Stand Your Ground defense unless your life is in
    IMMEDIATE danger! It’s supposed to be used as a LAST RESORT, not an excuse to
    shoot at unarmed people.

     

    1. She was in the garage, she could have fled and called the police.
    Instead, she grabbed a gun and ran BACK INTO THE HOUSE, a fired at an unarmed
    person. That makes HER the aggressor.2.. She was not being assaulted at the
    time she fired the gun, so her life was not in immediate danger.3. A verbal
    threat of being killed does not place your life in IMMEDIATE danger.4. She
    wrecklessly endangered the lives of her children who were nearby.

    6. No law in any state makes it legal for a citizen to fire warning shots
    at another person.6. Just because someone abused or assaulted you in the
    past, does NOT justify the use of deadly force at a later date.7. Deadly
    force is to be used as a LAST RESTORT, not a first resort. 8. You can’t just
    whip out a gun and point it at somebody everytime you feel afraid of somebody or
    are mad at them. There are laws against brandishing a weapon.9. All she had
    to do was LEAVE and call the police!

     

    Her ignorance of the law is to blame for her puttng herself in the
    situation of facing a Mandatory sentence, with no chance for a lessor
    sentence.

    This is what happens when people act on their idea of the law based on what
    they see in Movies and TV shows.

  • Linatlka

    Hey, you have apples and oranges here and you want to make lemonade.  There is NO way you should be comparing this to the Zimmerman case.  Once convicted of firing a weapon, Florida law mandates a 20 year sentence.  If the Judge erred in not invoking “stand your ground”, this will be resolved in appeal.  I am amazed, however, that “stand your ground” is fought for in this case but so wrong in the other?

  • Asitis

    Of course – Marissa is a BLACK WOMAN – DOUBLE WHAMMY!! One wonders about the morons they appoint judges and jurors!

  • Nesha Rowe

    I am listening to the Joe Madison Show and her husband called in with a totally different story.  I think this is a sad situation but it sounds like they were both abusive and violent and that she shot out of anger instead of fear. She then had a standoff with SWAT and the police.  After she was arrested she was released and re-arrested for assaulting him again.  I am looking for police reports now but this doesn’t seem like a case of Stand Your Ground and she seems to be sadly riding the coattails of Trayvon’s tragic death.  Before we jump on a band wagon, lets get the facts.

  • Nesha Rowe

    I am listening to the Joe Madison Show and her husband called in with a totally different story.  I think this is a sad situation but it sounds like they were both abusive and violent and that she shot out of anger instead of fear. She then had a standoff with SWAT and the police.  After she was arrested she was released and re-arrested for assaulting him again.  I am looking for police reports now but this doesn’t seem like a case of Stand Your Ground and she seems to be sadly riding the coattails of Trayvon’s tragic death.  Before we jump on a band wagon, lets get the facts.

    • Sassy

      God bless you for shedding some light on this, we are so quick to draw the race card instead of getting a balance view. 

  • thomasclemons5

    The woman had every right to protect herself against a violent man.

  • Kaciem125

    This is disgusting, our people can’t get a break!!!!

  • Pissed_in_philly

    I don’t understand how this is even happening. This sounds like some backwards a** bull s**t. Florida needs to evaluate their laws and how they’re interpreted. I wish the best for her and her family. Given her history, that man should have landed in the hospital or worse that day. This story must be told.

  • christielove

    This is crazy! All Marissa did was firing a warning shot in the air when her pos husband confronted her,he threatened to kill her and yet got off. Marissa didn’t kill him or anyone else, the judicial system overreacted and are at fault for failing to protect that lady. She deserve to be home with her babies,she is not a criminal. IMO That “stand your ground law” was not designed for black people,smdh.

    • AquarianQutie

       I agree, It seems designed for non-blacks to be able to harm and kill people then be protected under this law. Trayvon was not the aggressor (did not instigate this event, walking back to where he came from & minding his business), but for some reason not suppose to “Stand his Ground” , for it was killed, and George Zimmerman is the one who gets to use it as an umbrella….This woman probably had not intention on using it, was scared, and was trying to keep from being harmed or killed. She didn’t kill anyone, proof is she shot up and not at anyone, and the Judge is like what law? Climb out the window….really?

  • Ms_Mara

    The idiotic powers that be in Florida strike again. If this all happened exactly as outlined, she needs to be freed! And when she is, she should sue the city.

    • ROSE-TINTED GLASSES

      Shouldn’t she be able to the city while incarcerated? My line of thinking is that it would bring her current case to fruition much more quicklky

      • ROSE-TINTED GLASSES

        ***Shouldn’t she be able to sue….

  • Jazzymae281

    Damn this is some bull shit here tha women shouldn’t have to be crawling out of her window like a f*****g dog she live there hell he needed to leave not her I am suprised I just now heard about this story and I live right here in jacksonville,Fl wow what tha hell is going on out here she’s rigt here down town I need to go visit her show some suport!

  • Charla

    I guess she should have just shot him since she would be facing the same amount of time anyways…

  • Papillon

    There is a petition. Please sign and spread the word.

    http://www.change.org/petitions/free-marissa-alexander

  • wanda

    PLAIN AND SIMPLE, SHE IS BLACK AND ZIMMERMAN IS CONSIDERED A WHITE MAN BC OF HIS SKIN….. LET HER GO, SHE WAS JUST DEFENDING HERSELF AGANIST A VIOLENT MAN WHO WANTS HIS WAY WITH HER REGARDLESS OF HW SHE FEELS,,,MEN THINK WE AS WOMEN R SUPPOSE TO PUT UP WITH THEIR BULLS*** , BULLS*** IT’S TIME TO WHIPP THEIR PUNK A**…

  • Tim

    They need to keep her locked up.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000081211233 Jess Ica

      why?

      • chitchat

        Cuz someone clearly didn’t read the article.

    • Wanda

      u stupid punk! u r probably just like him…..I would whip ur sry A**..

      • Tim

        Please come and try so I can rid the world of a piece of trash.

    • CJS

      Really? What’s your angle? What in YOUR mind justifies that woman’s predicament? I’d like to understand how you came to that conclusion, MAN?

    • Pissed_in_philly

      She shoulda shot his punk a**, and someone needs to kneecap ur punk a** for even fixing ur mind to think such a stupid thing. Men like u n him make us all look bad. The day people like u are gone will be a good day for decent people.

  • Korey

    There just cannot be justice… WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON IN FLORIDA?

  • Love_Sexy

    I just heard about this story the other day on Michael Baison….The US is always talking about how women in other countries are being oppressed and abused but its just as bad here…..This story is truly unbelievable and I pray she is release from jail.

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