A Florida woman who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot into a wall during a fight with her allegedly abusive husband appeared in court on Wednesday — but will have to wait to find out if she will be go free before a scheduled retrial.
Bob Self / AP
Marissa Alexander enters the courtroom for her bond hearing on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, in Jacksonville, Fla.
Marissa Alexander's attorneys argued in a Jacksonville, Fla., court Wednesday that she should be granted bond pending trail because there is no longer animosity between her and her ex-husband.
The state, however, said she should remain incarcerated.
Judge James Daniel said he will likely not rule until another pretrial hearing scheduled for Jan. 15 because of a backlog of cases, WJXT TV in Jacksonville reported.
The plight of Alexander, who in September was granted a new trial, has raised questions about whether Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law was unfairly applied — with parallels drawn to the shooting death of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman.
In May, Alexander was handed the long sentence after a jury found her guilty of three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for firing the handgun during an argument with her estranged husband, Rico Gray, who was under a restraining order.
Protesters across Florida and elsewhere have demanded the charges be dropped, but prosecutors have refused.
At trial, Alexander testified that she fled into a garage during their Aug. 1, 2010 altercation and retrieved a handgun. She said she was unable to leave the house because the garage door was stuck. She testified that she went back into the house, where Gray was with his two sons, and fired the shot as a warning.
The defense argued that Alexander acted in self-defense and cited Stand Your Ground, which generally provides legal protection to people who use a weapon if they believe their life is in danger.
Gray meanwhile testified that his wife was the aggressor and pointed the gun at him before she fired.
The state appeals court has said that the judge was correct to bar Alexander from using the Stand Your Ground defense, but ordered a new trial because the trial judge gave “erroneous” instructions to the jury regarding self-defense.
Neighborhood watch volunteer Zimmerman’s attorneys successfully argued self-defense after he shot and killed unarmed teen Martin in 2012. He didn't use a pure Stand Your Ground defense, but language from the law was included in jury instructions.
Authorities for weeks did not arrest Zimmerman but he was later charged with second-degree murder, then acquitted.
State Attorney Angela Corey — who also prosecuted Zimmerman — argued in the Alexander case that Stand Your Ground didn’t apply because Alexander acted in anger.
The trial judge and the appeals court agreed, saying that by returning to the house, she showed she was not in fear for her life.
Alexander’s retrial is scheduled for March 31.
First published November 13 2013, 5:05 PM