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Woman convicted using 'stand your ground' defense gets new trial


The Florida woman who was convicted of aggravated assault even though she claimed that she was a victim of abuse and was entitled to protection under the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law is seeking bail before her new trial begins next April. An appellate court granted Marissa Alexander a new trial in September after finding that the trial court jury received improper instructions regarding the application of her defense.

The appellate court found that the jury instructions improperly required jurors to find that Alexander proved “beyond a reasonable doubt” that she was acting in self-defense. Jurors were also instructed to find that self-defense applied only if Alexander suffered an injury, which she did not.

Alexander’s initial conviction sparked outrage and claims of a racial double standard in the wake of the verdict George Zimmerman received since Alexander (who is African-American) was not allowed the same protection under “Stand Your Ground” that Zimmerman (a white Hispanic) was afforded.. Zimmerman was acquitted of second degree murder after his trial for fatally shooting Trayvon Martin, while Alexander was given 20 years even though no one was hurt.

Alexander was charged with aggravated assault after she fired a warning shot in the air in the midst of a domestic dispute with her former husband. She testified that during the dispute, he broke through a bathroom door that had been previously locked and grabbed her by the neck. A physical struggle ensued. Soon afterward, she fled to the garage and attempted to leave, but was unable to open the garage door, so she retrieved her gun. Alexander further testified that her former husband charged at her, prompting her to fire a shot in the air.

Florida prosecutors vowed to seek the same criminal penalties in the new trial. 

Source: ABC News.com, “Florida woman sentenced to 20 years for firing warning shot wants bail,” Steve Osunsami, November 12, 2013

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