Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground law will once again be no refuge for Marissa Alexander, the Florida woman who fired what she said was a warning shot near her abusive husband, Rico Gray, and his two sons.
On Friday, Circuit judge James H. Daniel denied her request for a new hearing to seek immunity from prosecution under the law, finding that the legislature’s June revision to include such warning shots ”cannot be applied retroactively” for a new Stand Your Ground hearing.
One of her attorneys, Buddy Schulz, said in a statement to msnbc, “We’ve received Judge Daniels’ order and are in the process of reviewing his decision. We deeply appreciate the time and thought that Judge Daniel continues to give to the numerous complex and difficult issues in Marissa’s case.”
Alexander was denied immunity from prosecution at her first Stand Your Ground hearing, where a judge found ”insufficient evidence that [Alexander] reasonably believed deadly force was needed to prevent death or great bodily harm to herself.” She was later convicted of aggravated assault and sentenced to twenty years.
Judge Daniel had previously granted Alexander a new trial on the basis of improper jury instructions. Her attorneys also sought a new Stand Your Ground hearing, which if ultimately successful would have set Alexander free without a trial. They argued that the “warning shot” law had changed the terrain and that there was new evidence. But Daniel said that the evidence – which included one of Gray’s children recanting his testimony, expert testimony on “battered women’s syndrome,” and Gray’s long pattern of domestic violence, lying to law enforcement, and instructing his children to lie to law enforcement — didn’t meet the legal standard to merit a new hearing.
“The basic outlines of her claim and [Gray’s] claim have not changed at all,” Daniel wrote.
At her trial, Alexander testified that she fired the gun because Gray threatened to kill her after a long pattern of abuse, while Gray testified that after the couple argued, she went and got the handgun and discharged it without any provocation from him. In 2012, a jury found Alexander guilty after deliberating for twelve minutes.
In June, Governor Rick Scott signed into law the so-called “warning shot” revision to the self-defense statute, which clarified that it be applied to “threatening to use deadly force.” In his order Friday, Judge Daniel said Alexander could still argue that the law applies to her retroactively.
State attorney Angela Corey is now seeking a 60-year sentence for aggravated assault; triple what Alexander was originally sentenced. Corey told the Huffington Post in 2012 that Alexander was “not in fear,” but rather “was angry” when she fired her gun.
Alexander’s second trial is scheduled for December.