United States Politics

Florida Mom Marissa Alexander To Serve 20 Years for Firing Warning Shot, While George Zimmerman Goes Free

By Sarah Rae Fruchtnicht

A Florida woman was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot at her allegedly abusive husband. Claiming self-defense, just as George Zimmerman did in the Trayvon Martin shooting trial, a jury convicted Marissa Alexander of Jacksonville of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Alexander, 31, said she feared for her life when she fired a bullet into the wall of her home in August 2010. The Jacksonville mother of three had a protective order against her husband.

No one was hurt in the shooting, but a jury found her guilty on May 11, and she was given the mandatory minimum sentence under the gun law: 20 years.

Alexander had never been in trouble with the law before, but Circuit Court Judge James Daniel said he wouldn’t allow for any circumstances to reduce the sentence below the 20-year minimum.

On Saturday, an all-female jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the Sanford, Florida, shooting death of an unarmed 17-year-old, Trayvon Martin. There was no dispute as to whether Zimmerman shot and killed Martin. Instead, the jury considered whether Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, was justified in his use of deadly force, which by Florida state law means force “necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm.”

Zimmerman waived his right to a “Stand Your Ground” pretrial immunity hearing, CNN reported, and attorneys went forward with the trial as a self-defense case. When Alexander’s attorney made an appeal to reconsider her case under the “Stand Your Ground” law, the judge denied to grant her a new trial.

State Attorney Angela Corey, who oversaw the prosecution of George Zimmerman, stood by the Alexander sentencing, according to Press TV. Corey believes that Alexander aimed the gun at her husband. She argues that the bullet fired could have ricocheted and hit him or others in the room.

Zimmerman was outdoors in a densely populated neighborhood when he shot Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman also had previous run-ins with the law. He was arrested in 2005 and charged with “resisting officer with violence” and “battery of law enforcement officer.”

A recording of his 911 call shows Zimmerman said he was following Martin and ignored a dispatcher who told him not to approach the teenager. Zimmerman had no order of protection against Martin. Martin was unarmed.

Is it fair for Alexander to spend two decades in jail for a crime that had no fatalities, while Zimmerman walks? Does race and sex influence a jury’s decision?

Opposing Views, July 14, 2013