We’ve learned a lot about the “Stand Your Ground” laws in Florida and other states since a self-appointed neighborhood watchman shot and killed an unarmed boy, and walked free in Florida for 46 days. There seem to be a varied number of reasons why George Zimmerman was able to do that to Trayvon Martin, but one is the claim that he “stood his ground,” using deadly force in a life-threatening situation. Whether or not you disagree with the law, that is the essence of it, and whatever their motivations, there are a lot of people backing Zimmerman’s right to “stand his ground” and helping to fund his defense.
Rewind to two years ago, when Marissa Alexander “stood her ground,” in the spirit of the law – and didn’t even kill anyone. She fired a bullet into the ceiling as a warning to her abusive husband, was arrested in Florida that same August night in 2010, and now stands charged with a crime that carries a mandatory 20-year prison sentence.
According to authorities, the 31-year-old mother of three fired a single shot from her legally registered handgun as she attempted to escape her 36-year-old husband, Rico Gray. In a 2010 deposition, Gray admitted to “four or five” previous incidents of domestic violence involving Alexander. Describing one of those incidents, which resulted in Alexander going to the hospital, he said, “We was staying together and I pushed her back and she fell in the bathtub and hit her head.”
This is how Alexander –- who had just given birth nine days before the incident – described being shoved, strangled, and held against her will on that August 2010 night, per the blog set up by her first husband, Lincoln Alexander:
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, “B*** 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 [from a previous relationship]. The police arrived and I was taken into custody.
Four months after her arrest, a judge rejected Alexander’s attempt to seek immunity under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, saying that she could have escaped her husband “through the front or back door.” In March, a jury took just 12 minutes to return a guilty verdict against Alexander for three counts of aggravated assault. Yesterday, a judge denied Alexander’s request for a new trial; she is set to be sentenced on May 11.
Melissa will have more about this case on our show this weekend, but in the meantime, watch the report done by msnbc’s own “Politics Nation with Al Sharpton” last night.