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Florida Woman Sentenced to 20 Years in Domestic Dispute Given Second Chance. Does she warrant a second chance?

The Florida woman sentenced to 20 years in prison because she fired a gun during a domestic dispute has been granted a second trial. Marissa Alexander fired a gun at a wall in an attempt to frighten her husband who was at her house despite a restraining order against him. Ms. Alexander went into the garage to get a gun but couldn’t exit because the door was stuck shut. Therefore, she reentered the house and shot the gun at the wall. Her husband was sitting on the sofa with his two sons. No one was injured during the incident, which occurred on August 1, 2013.

Subsequent to the shooting, Ms. Alexander was arrested and later convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The trial judge said that due to state law he had no choice but to sentence her to a 20-year prison term. This case has been compared to the controversial Trayvon Martin case where the shooter, George Zimmerman, claimed he shot Martin in self-defense and invoked Florida’s well-known “Stand Your Ground” law as his defense. Zimmerman was acquitted, Trayvon Martin died at the scene and no weapon was found on him.

In September, the defense appealed and the appellate court ordered a new trial for Ms. Alexander. Apparently there was something amiss in the judge’s instructions to the jury regarding self-defense. Supporters of Ms. Alexander want the case dropped. Prosecutors state they have no intention of dropping the charges. “The SAO will continue to pursue justice for our two child victims and their father who were endangered by the shot the defendant fired at them.” They claim the bullet could have ricocheted and injured any of the people sitting on the sofa.

The prosecutors said that Ms. Alexander was guilty because she was angry when she fired the gun. There has been no information released regarding any alleged endangerment to her by her husband. Restraining orders are generally requested after documented incidents of violence or abuse. They are the first step taken to protect one’s self from continued abuse. Unfortunately, restraining orders are pieces of paper and often violated, all too often resulting in additional violence against the person who requested the order. Perhaps that is why Ms. Alexander was angry. Her husband appeared at her house and she couldn’t get out through the garage. Retrial is set for March 31, 2014. Keep your eyes on this one.

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