Woman Sentenced to 20 Years for Firing Warning Shot Wants Bail
(NEW YORK) -- The Florida woman, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot during a dispute with her husband, will appear at a bail hearing Wednesday.
Marissa Alexander of Jacksonville, Fla., was convicted of aggravated assault in March 2012 and sentenced to 20 years behind bars. An appellate court in September granted the mother of three a new trial, which will begin next year.
The appeals court said the trial judge gave the jury incorrect instructions on self-defense.
The conviction of Alexander, who is black, sparked outrage and cries of a racial double-standard in light of the exoneration of George Zimmerman -- whose mother is Hispanic and father is white -- for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, who was black.
Zimmerman successfully argued self-defense, while Alexander unsuccessfully tried to invoke Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law.
Alexander hopes to be released from prison Wednesday while she awaits trial in April, and prosecutors say they will be prepared.
"The facts are facts," Assistant State Attorney David Thompson said. "Facts don't change. So we're going to put the same facts to the law and give the proper jury instruction this time."
Alexander testified that, on Aug. 1, 2010, her then-husband, Rico Gray Sr., questioned her fidelity and the paternity of her 1-week-old child.
She said he broke through a bathroom door that she had locked and grabbed her by the neck. She said she tried to push past him but he shoved her into the door, sparking a struggle that she described as an "eternity."
She said she ran to the garage and tried to leave but was unable to open the garage door, so she retrieved a gun, which she legally owned.
Once inside, she said, her husband saw the gun and charged at her "in a rage," saying, "Bitch, I'll kill you." She said she raised the gun and fired a warning shot into the air because it was the "lesser of two evils."
No one was injured in the incident.
The jury rejected the self-defense claim and Alexander was sentenced under the state's mandatory sentencing 10-20-life law, sparking outrage over how self-defense laws are applied in the state.
Alexander and Gray each testified in court that the other was abusive, but even her ex-husband believes her prison sentence was too severe.
"You know I didn't want my wife to go to prison," he said. "I wanted to help her."
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