Marissa Alexander, Black Woman Sentenced To 20 Years For Firing Warning Shot At Abusive Ex-Husband, Will Get A New Trial

Marissa Alexander, a Florida mother who was sentenced to 20 years in prison in May after firing a warning shot at her abusive ex-husband, will get a new trial.

In August 2010, Alexander’s ex-husband allegedly read messages from her ex on her cell phone, became angry, strangled her and threatened to kill her. After the broke free, the 31-year-old mom of three fired a handgun into the air in an attempt to scare him off. Note: she didn’t actually injure him or anyone else. 

Alexander was charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a firearm because a bullet hit the wall near where two children were sleeping. Her lawyers tried to defend her with the argument that she was protecting her own life under Florida’s “stand your ground” law, but to no avail. The jury apparently thought Alexander fired the gun in anger, not self-defense, because she left their argument to go get the gun. She was sentenced under Florida’s “10-20-life” law, which institutes mandatory minimums for gun violence.

Alexander is Black. Given how her sentencing to 20 years happened right around the time George Zimmerman geared up for trial for the murder of unarmed Black teenager Trayvon Martin, also invoking the “stand your ground” law, it illustrated the stark difference in treatment for people of color in the criminal justice system.


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