Marissa Alexander Is Free But Not Yet In The Clear

Source: Zerlina Maxwell / theGrio

Florida judge finally released Marissa Alexander from prison last week just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.

It’s the first time Alexander has been home in three years, since she was convicted of aggravated assault for firing a warning shot into the air during a confrontation with her abusive husband Rico Gray.  During the incident, Alexander alleges Gray strangled her and that she retrieved her gun and fired a warning shot in self-defense.  There is no duty to retreat in Florida.

Alexander was originally convicted and sentenced to 20 years under Florida’s “10-20-Life” mandatory minimum statute which carries harsh sentences for gun related crimes.  The case garnered national attention when the court refused to accept Alexander’s stand your ground defense, even though she was using a licensed weapon, she was inside her own home at the time, she was defending herself, and no one was hurt.

In March, Alexander will face a new jury at her second trial which was awarded after an appeals court found that the judge improperly instructed the jury on self-defense.  The appeals court ruled that the jury instruction at her original trial was improper because shifted the burden of proof onto Alexander, requiring her to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she was battered by Rico Gray.  The burden of proof is supposed to be on the prosecution, who is required to prove that Alexander was not acting in self-defense.  Alexander need only prove her claim of self-defense by a preponderance of the evidence, the lowest burden of proof.

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