Rep. Corrine Brown praised an appeals court decision granting Marissa Alexander a new trial on Thursday, saying she was “thrilled” that the 32-year-old mother will be given a new chance to defend herself.
In 2012, Alexander was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing what she contends was a warning shot to scare off her her abusive husband during an altercation.
“I am so pleased to hear that Florida’s First District Court of Appeals ordered a new trial for Marissa Alexander,” Brown said in a statement released Thursday. “It has been clear to me since the day she was sentenced that a 20 year mandatory jail term was terribly excessive.”
“It is important to note his threatening words just minutes before the incident: ‘If I can’t have you, nobody is going to have you,’” Brown continued. “Indeed, millions of abused women have heard those harsh words.”
Alexander sought to invoke Florida’s Stand Your Ground law during her original trial, testifying that her husband was emotionally and physically abusing her during the altercation which led her to fire her gun, but was denied the opportunity to use that defense in court.
She was offered a deal to serve only three years in exchange for a guilty plea, which she and her lawyers rejected. Under Florida’s “10-20-Life” law, any crime committed with a gun includes mandatory minimum sentences, so when a jury found Alexander guilty of three counts of aggravated assault, she faced a minimum 20 year sentence.
Brown has been an advocate of Alexander’s for more than a year now, taking to the House floor in May of 2012 to talk about her case shortly after Alexander was sentenced.
The judge who issued Thursday’s ruling agreed that the court was right to have rejected the use of the Stand Your Ground in Alexander’s defense, but that she should get a new trial because the jury instructions on self-defense were “erroneous” and that the burden was improperly put on Alexander to prove self-defense, where she simply had to “raise a reasonable doubt concerning self-defense.”
The office of State Attorney Angela Corey issued the following statement to theGrio.com:
The defendant’s conviction was reversed on a legal technicality. The First District Court of Appeal found that Florida’s Supreme Court’s jury instructions were wrong. We are gratified that the Court affirmed the defendant’s Stand Your Ground ruling. This means the defendant will not have another Stand Your Ground hearing. The case will be back in Circuit Court in the Fourth Judicial Circuit at the appropriate time.