As supporters rally, woman asks for new trial

Woman facing 20 years in prison for firing gun at now-ex-husband

Published On: Apr 30 2012 11:55:04 AM EDT   Updated On: Apr 30 2012 09:34:17 PM EDT
Marissa Alexander
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

As supporters rallied outside the Duval County Courthouse, attorneys for a woman convicted despite her claims of self-defense were told Monday they could argue for a new trial.

Last week, Marissa Alexander was found guilty of three counts of aggravated assault after she fired a gun during a confrontation with her now-ex-husband inside their home in 2010.

Judge James Daniel set a post-trial motions hearing for 8:30 a.m. Thursday. Daniel said if the motions are denied, she could be sentenced as soon as next week.

The 31-year-old mother of three could be sentenced up to 20 years on the charge.

According to court documents, Alexander said her second husband was abusive. She said the two got into a fight and her husband tried to strangle her. She told investigators that when she got away, she got a gun out of her car and when the man rushed at her, she fire one shot into the ceiling.  Alexander's husband had two children with him at the time, according to court documents.

Alexander's attorney filed a motion of immunity under Florida's stand-your-ground law. According to court documents, the judge dismissed it.

"You hear about people killing people and walking away. You hear about people shooting people and not getting charged for it. I look at my daughter, she didn't shoot anyone, she wanted to protect herself," said Alexander's mother, Helen Jenkins. "She didn't want to kill him, she just didn't want him to kill her. In America we have the right to bear arms. She did everything right that she was supposed to do and she ended up behind bars facing 20 years. I don't know what that says. Does that tell men it's OK to beat your wives? I haven't heard anything about that." 

Former prosecutor Jay Plotkin, who didn't work on this particular case, said Marissa's attorney still used the self-defense claim, but the jury didn't buy it.

"The law says you need to be in reasonable use of deadly force at the time you're using the force," Plotkin said. "She was in the garage away from the person. She claimed she was in fear and there was no indication this person was going to attack her or confront her."

But the public rallying around Alexander does not surprise her attorney, Kevin Cobbin.

"When you have domestic violence ,which is a terrible crime in society, and you have a alleged victim who perpetrates domestic violence repeatedly against an individual, I'm not surprised the whole country is behind Ms. Alexander," Cobbin said.

The fact that the stand-your-ground law was a factor in this case has resulted in parallels to the shooting death of Trayvon Marin by a Sanford neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman earlier this year.

"Not only are we wanting another trial, we want Marissa to be released today," said victim advocate Linda Dayson. "If they can release Zimmerman and he shot a 17-year-old young boy and killed him, then Marissa should be able to be set free."