Marissa Alexander (pictured), a young lady who invoked Stand Your Ground in her case but was denied, is set to get a new trial. Alexander was convicted and sentenced to 20 years for shooting a bullet in to the ceiling of her home when her husband allegedly attacked her.
Even though there were no injuries from the incident, Alexander was convicted and sentenced to prison for two decades.
RELATED: Who Is Marissa Alexander?
While the appellate court did not reverse her conviction because of Stand Your Ground, they reversed the conviction because the trial court did not properly instruct the jury on self-defense, which was Alexander’s claim for trial.
If the jury considered self-defense and found that she was defending herself from her husband, she may have been acquitted of the aggravated assault charge.
An outcry came from the public demanding justice in this case, which was prosecuted by Angela Corey, the same prosecutor on the George Zimmerman case. For many, Alexander receiving a two-decade sentence, while Zimmerman eventually received a not-guilty verdict for murdering Black teen Trayvon Martin appeared to reek of a racial double-standard.
In the 12-page order, Judge J. Benton, who sits on the appeals court, detailed the incident that lead to the arrest as well as why he felt it was necessary to overturn the conviction of Alexander. According to Judge Benton’s order, the trial court made an error by instructing the jury that Alexander had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she was justified in using self-defense.
That is not proper. The judge should’ve instructed the jury that when Alexander makes a self-defense claim, then the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it is not self-defense.
According to the order, after reading text messages from her ex-husband, Marissa’s husband, Rico Gray (pictured above left), accused her of infidelity, questioning the paternity of their 1-week-old son. Alexander locked herself in the bathroom and demanded Gray leave. She ran from the bathroom to the garage, where her car was parked, but the garage door was down.
Alexander testified that she could not get the garage door open but retrieved a gun from the glove compartment, which she had a permit for, and then walked back in to the house with the gun on her side — not knowing if Gray had left the home or not. When Gray saw the weapon, he reportedly charged her “in a rage,” saying, “Bitch, I’ll kill you.”
Startled, Alexander raised the gun in to the air and fired. Mr. Gray ran.
According to Alexander, she was forced to fire the gun in the air as a warning shot because it was the “lesser of two evils.”
While testifying at her original trial, Alexander told the jury of several incidents of domestic violence at the hands of Gray, including him choking her while she almost lost consciousness. In another incident, Gray needed hospitalization.
Several witnesses, including family members, confirmed Alexander’s many injuries at the hands of her husband.
In an opposing view of the majority opinion, Judge T. Kent Wetherell, who also sits on the appeals courts, stated in his opinion piece that although the case should be reversed, there are still fundamental problems that should be considered. He wrote that the evidence showed that Marissa Alexander had the option of exiting either the front or back doors, which were unobstructed, and said that there was no evidence that the garage door did not work. According to the judge, Marissa Alexander had ample opportunity to leave the home without harm.
Instead, Marissa returned in to the house with the firearm and pointed it in the direction of Rico Gray. Further, Wetherell mentioned an incident after the shooting in which Marissa Alexander went to Rico Gray’s home and physically attacked him, which led to Marissa Alexander’s bond being revoked and her being held until trial.
No new trial date has been set yet.
For media inquiries, Eric Guster can be reached at 205-240-1236 or Eric@GusterLawFirm.com or via twitter: @ericguster