Gloria Ortiz Blog#5


Florida woman sentenced to 20 years in controversial warning shot case. 

A 30-year-old woman who fired warning shots to her abusive husband was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Marissa Alexander was convicted of three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for firing at a wall near her husband. She argued that her intent was not to hurt anyone and that she was “Standing her Ground” against her abusive husband, who had abused her on several occasions previously. It took the jury 12 minutes of deliberation to convict her.  

 The case was prosecuted by the same state attorney who is handling the Traven Martin case. It has gained the attention of civil rights leaders who say “the African-American woman was persecuted because of her race.” The state attorney Angela Corey stated that she had offered a plea bargain that would result in a three-year sentence, however Marissa Alexander refused and choose to take her case to a jury trial. A conviction would carry a mandatory sentence under Florida Law known as “10-20-life”.

 On August 1, 2010, Alexander claims she was trying to escape from her abusive husband when she picked up a gun and fired a single shot into a wall. She said that her husband tried to strangle her after he found text messages written to her ex husband. She escaped to the garage and after realizing she forgot the car keys, grabbed a gun and went back inside the house. After he husband threatening her to kill her, she fired one shot to warn him.

Brown, the Jacksonville congresswoman, told reporters after the sentencing that the case was a product of “institutional racism.” “She was overcharged by the prosecutor… She never should have been charged.”

 Comparing this case to Zimmerman, the man who killed an unarmed teenager and was found not guilty on self defense; many can’t help but argue that race was a factor in the outcome of these cases. Seems like the law is meant to protect white men. This also plays into intersectionality, our guest speaker Alexis Alvarez defines it “as the cumulative effect of discrimination among multiple hierarchical axes.” Comparing this case to Zimmerman, you can see the different outcomes due to race, gender, and class.


Read more:

There is actually a website which provides all the “Stand Your Ground” cases in Florida. There you can explore all the cases and view detailed information. You can browse the website by victims or defendants, and by fatal and non-fatal cases.

In the chart below, you can see how the “Stand your Ground” law privileges whites, as opposed to blacks. This chart shows the likelihood of killings being found justified depending on race.



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