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Florida woman gets 20-years in prison for firing warning shot during dispute with husband

By Mason White 11:54 AM July 15, 2013
Marissa Alexander 

By: Debbi Gross
(Scroll down for video) A mother was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a gun without hitting anyone.

The Jacksonville, Florida mother of three said she fired the warning shot after she felt threatened by her husband, who has been jailed in the past for abusing her.

Marissa Alexander, 31, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for shooting the gun, which did not hit a person, but hit the wall. Alexander claimed that she should be protected by the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law because she was defending herself against her abusive husband, Rico Gray, 36, when she fired the warning shots inside her home in August 2010.

She told police she fired the shot in attempt to escape a beating by her husband against whom she had taken out an order of protection in the past . Alexander was offered a plea deal of three years in prison, but she refused the deal, claiming she was the victim. But her story did not add up.

According to prosecutors, she was the one holding the gun near an open garage door, yet she claimed she was unable to get away from her husband, who was not armed.
After hearing testimony and listening to her husband’s police call on the day of the incident, the jury did not believe that she was a victim of abuse. After deliberating for 12 minutes she was the found guilty.

Circuit Court Judge James Daniel handed down a 20 year prison sentence. Under Florida’s mandatory minimum sentencing requirements, Alexander could not receive a lesser sentence, even though she has never been in trouble with the law before.
Judge Daniel said the law did not allow for extenuating or mitigating circumstances to reduce the sentence below the 20-year minimum sentence.

Alexander has three children, 11-year-old twins from a previous relationship and an almost 2-year-old daughter with her husband Rico Gray, who now has custody of their daughter.
Alexander’s attorney will appeal the case. He said she was clearly defending herself and she should not have to spend the next two decades behind bars.