Jacksonville, Florida, Judge James Daniel, issued a 20-year sentence to Marissa Alexander, a 31-year-old African American mother of 3, for firing a warning shot to fend off her abusive husband. He was threatening to kill her and that is why she fired the warning shot. Her husband, Rico Gray, is an admitted abuser. The 10-20 life law in Florida carries a mandatory 20 year sentence for discharging a firearm when convicted by a jury. The States Attorney, Angela Corey, offered Ms. Alexander a plea bargain that would have resulted in a 3 year prison sentence, but, because Ms. Alexander chose to take the case to a jury trial, she is automatically deemed to serve 20 years in prison, with no chance of parole. How outrageous! Why, in a state where "Stand Your Ground" was created for self-defense, should she have had to take a plea to ensure she would not receive a long prison term? For a mother of 3, a 3 year sentence is a lifetime! It is important to remember that no one was injured or killed as a result of her firing that shot. More importantly, the Stand Your Ground cases are typically not successful defenses for African Americans in Florida and many of the other states that have this law. Because this is a law, the judge had no choice but to apply the mandatory punishment.
We need to send this petition to Rick Scott, Governor of Florida, who can intervene, and has the power to commute this unjust sentence. This is yet another injustice against an African American in this country. Ironically, in this case, the victim is a college graduate who holds a Master's Degree, has no criminal record, is an abused woman, and a mother of 3. In other words, an upstanding and decent citizen merely defending herself.
It is our hope that a national outcry will free this woman!